Reusable Bags Show Hawaii Bag Ban Success

A plastic bag ban in Hawaii has been applauded as a success story in an article on West Hawaii Today, which shared that the recently instituted plastic bag ban has reduced plastic bag usage, with 80% of shoppers now bringing their own bags. Reporter Nancy Cook Lauer writes that staff surveys were conducted in supermarkets across West and East Hawaii, and the results showed a greater acceptance of the bag ban than on Maui or Kauai. According to the article, reusable bag usage was at just 13% before the ban's implementation, displaying a huge increase. Writes Lauer:

The county has stressed a transition to the reusable bags, rather than pushing the option of paper bags in its promotional efforts, Peters said. Many retailers are offering a few cents discount for each reusable bag brought in, while charging from 5 to 10 cents for single-use plastic bags.

Hawaii Island grocery retailer KTA took the bag ban a step further, charging for both paper and plastic bags as it depletes its inventory. On the Big Island alone, more than 723 tons of paper grocery bags are used each year, according to KTA. The production of those paper bags contributes to air pollution and would require 12,000 trees to be cut down.

The County Council voted to ban plastic bags because they can threaten wildlife by entangling or choking fish, sea turtles and birds.

The impacts of human life on the ocean are very visible in an island community like Hawaii, and this story of change will hopefully be the first of many of its kind. For more information on Hawaii County's plastic bag ban, please see the full story on West Hawaii Today here.

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