City Council has good intentions with push to curb plastic bags in Eau Claire

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Plastic bags are bad for the environment – but good for the City Council of Eau Claire – after a unanimous vote recently delayed a ban on plastic bags.

A three-phase plan of action to reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent within the city in five years will take a backseat.

Issuing a requirement for stores to pay a fee for bags given out, offering a small financial incentive to customers who reuse and educating citizens were all ideas to push forward the plans.

While there isn’t a ban on using plastic bags in the city right now, discussion about whether there should be will resume with the City Council in February.

Once bags are used, they end up in a landfill. But some end up littering waterways, parks, beaches and streets.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2011 the U.S. generated almost 14 million tons of plastic as containers and packaging.

This category includes bags, sacks and wraps, which are recycled at a rate of about 11 percent, according to the EPA.

The EPA says plastics account for about 13 percent of the solid waste stream, a striking increase from the 1960s, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream.

Plastic recycling rates are different for each product but overall, the plastic recycling rate was 8 percent, or 2.7 million tons in 2011 according to the EPA.

Many plastic items end up deteriorating into tiny particles as they go through a weathering process over time and exposure to the elements of nature.

Extreme heat in some climates, while bitter cold in others creates a reaction.  All plastics put wildlife in danger.

Birds often mistake plastic particles for food. They swoop down for a tasty nibble one too many times before their bodies lay lifeless on a beach. Many critters can’t digest plastic.

Is it the animals fault for mistaking the piece of plastic for a piece of food? We, as good stewards of the environment, should protect the little guys.

It’s hard to imagine life without plastic grocery bags, but the City Council is on to something.

They are promoting a positive attitude towards the environment with their desire to educate the citizens and ban bags altogether.

A desire to be proactive and curb the use of environmentally destructive plastic bags promotes citizens to unite in the spirit of conservation as opposed to consumerism for a good cause and minor sacrifice.

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