Green Energy Times staff
The Green Energy Times article, “Garbage Patches in our Oceans,” (bit.ly/GET-ocean-trash) outlined a rapidly growing problem with plastics, especially plastic bags and microplastics. When that article appeared in August of 2015, eight million tons of plastics were getting into the ocean each year, accumulating in ocean gyres. The situation has not improved since. The gyres are hundreds of miles across and growing.
Local governments in Vermont have started taking action. On July 1, a ban on use of plastic bags went into effect in Brattleboro, after being passed by the select board. This was not a quickly made decision. The community had been studying a number of approaches to plastic bags, such as requiring a minimum thickness, for quite awhile. The ban was a product of that consideration.
Brattleboro’s ban is already having effects on other communities in Vermont. Earth Matters, an environmental group in Manchester, VT, brought the issue to that community’s select board. While that board was not yet ready to put a ban into effect locally, it resolved to call upon the state to have a statewide ban on plastic bags.
The issue of plastics has grown rapidly. Microplastics, used in cleaning products and toothpaste, have been appearing in the food chain. Plastics floating in the ocean have been responsible for the deaths of millions of birds, who mistake small pieces of plastic for food and eat them, only to have them accumulate in and block their digestive systems. Plastics break down slowly, so they are rapidly accumulating in the environment.