Hundreds of millions of plastic bags

Rhode Islanders use hundreds of millions of disposable plastic bags every year—most of which we use only once, for the few minutes it takes us to get home from the store. Even when they make their way to landfills, these bags often end up getting carried by the wind into Narragansett Bay and our parks, beaches and rivers.

Marine environment in danger

Too many plastic bags end up as litter in Narragansett Bay and off our coast, and it's creating an ecological disaster:

  • Turtles, whales and other marine animals that pass through Rhode Island waters often mistake plastic bags for food, which can cause them to starve or choke to death. They can also get entangled in bags and drown or die of suffocation.
  • Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small pieces of plastic to their chicks, often causing them to die when their stomachs become filled with plastic.
  • As plastic bags break down into smaller fragments, fish and quahogs are vulnerable to the toxic pollutants they carry. Fish and clams are vital to the marine food chain and Rhode Island's economy.

Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the Bay for hundreds of years

Because they do not biodegrade, plastic from bags remains in our waters for hundreds of years, perhaps longer. Nothing we use for just five minutes should pollute Narragansett Bay for hundreds of years, spoiling its waters with trash and endangering the wildlife we treasure and depend on.

It’s time for Rhode Island to ban plastic bags

Luckily, the solution is simple: lawmakers can make Rhode Island an environmental leader by banning these plastic bags. 

We helped ban plastic bags locally in Barrington, and with a statewide bill being considered by state lawmakers, this is the chance for Rhode Island to be the first to ban plastic bags at the state level.

Join our campaign today to ban plastic bags: Send your state representative a message. 

Issue updates

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Report | Environment Rhode Island Research and Policy Center

Summer Fun Index

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