Letter: Full plastic bag ban should be enforced in South Lake Tahoe
A new ordinance, stating that grocery stores and food vendors in South Lake Tahoe could no longer dispense plastic bags, was put in place in January 2015. However, in December that same year, city council voted to repeal a portion of the plastic bag ban, therefore allowing non-grocery stores to supply them. Due to issues recycling plastic, and the threat towards the local fauna population, the city should ban any store from dispensing plastic bags.
City council member Tom Davis believes that allowing non-grocery store businesses to supply plastic bags is acceptable because their impact is not “significant in terms of added waste, especially because South Lake Tahoe Refuse offers recycling” (tahoedailytribune.com). What Davis doesn’t know is that less than five percent of plastic bags received are recycled, meaning that out of 100 billion used, less than five billion are recovered. Bags that are not recycled end up in landfills or the Lake Tahoe basin, potentially harming local wildlife.
As a result of plastic bag’s lightness and non-permeability, they are easily carried off by the wind and end up in our forests, marshes and lake. Once in the environment, the bags are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces by the sun’s rays. Animals may mistake these small pieces for food and attempt to digest them, however, animals bodies are not made to eat plastic so they often experience “intestinal blockage” or even “laceration[s] in [the] stomach” (onegreenplanet.com). When the animals die, or if they are lucky enough to survive, the plastic re-enters the environment and continues to wreak havoc because “plastic can take up to 1,000 years to break down” (onegreenplanet.com).
There are too many risks involved with plastic, and the city council must reinstate the full ordinance.
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
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