Weygand, Robert

Advisor Department

Political Science




Narragansett, Plastic Bag, Ban, Environment


Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country at 37 miles wide and 48 miles long, rightfully earns its nickname “The Ocean State” when considering the 400 miles of shoreline constituting Narragansett Bay. Despite the obvious necessities of sustaining a healthy bay within a state known for its beaches, at present day one would be challenged to walk along the Narragansett Sea Wall without spotting a plastic bag floating in or around the neighboring coastline. Not only are these bags an eye soar and a nuisance to Narragansett – a community whose financial prosperity is highly reliant upon its summer tourism to its beaches – they also pose a serious threat to the well-being of Rhode Island’s ecosystem. Plastic bags, a single-use item in nature that can be easily replaced with reusable tote bags, collect harmful toxins that contaminate waterways in the over 1,000 years they require to degrade. Additionally, amongst an array of other issues, plastic bags are extremely dangerous, directly causing over 100,000 aquatic life deaths annually.

In consideration of the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” it becomes apparent, seeing as how 98% of the 100 billion plastic bags used in the United States annually end up in the landfill or as litter, that the only remaining solution to alleviate the plastic bag pandemic is reduction. As such, in order to most efficiently protect the economic and environmental well-being of the beachside community of Narragansett, a plastic bag ban ordinance should be implemented. Local support from residents, businesses, and environmental groups within the town will need to be mobilized, and a ‘champion of the proposal’ on the Town Council will need to be solicited, in order for the ordinance to ultimately be passed by the Narragansett Town Council. In due course, with the passing of the plastic bag ban ordinance, Narragansett and Rhode Island alike will sustain both a more fruitful economy and healthy environment.