Rye is proud to be a plastic-bag-free town.
Rye is proud to be a plastic-bag-free town. Plastic bags account for many millions of tons of the accumulated municipal waste in the U.S. They require a substantial amount of energy to produce, often end up as litter in our communities, persist for up to a thousand years in landfills and waterways, choke marine life which mistake them for food, clog municipal sewage systems … the list goes on and on.
Local establishments have naturally turned to paper bags as the alternative. The paper bags we receive in stores throughout Rye feel intuitively better than those plastic bags, right? Just a glance tells you that they are readily biodegradable; they are made from wood, not a fossil-fuel-derived compound, after all. You never see paper bags carried by the wind to end up ensnarled in the branches of beautiful old trees. You don’t see them washed ashore on the beaches of Long Island Sound.
But before you happily walk out of a store with a paper bag, there’s something you should know: The picture painted by the paper bag isn’t pretty, either. The production of paper bags creates 70 percent more air pollution than the production of plastic bags. The production of one ton of pulp requires thousands upon thousands of gallons of clean water. Millions of gallons of chemicals used annually in the production of paper end up in our waterways with long-term effects reverberating through the entire food chain. When paper bags sit in landfills, the lack of oxygen, water, and sunlight inhibit their breakdown, which takes many, many years in such an environment.
Sounds depressing, but it doesn’t need to be because there’s an easy solution available to us at this very moment — Reusable bags! Given the drawbacks of plastic and paper bags, the only viable option is reusable bags. The carbon footprint of the reusable bag spread over tens (but usually hundreds) of uses is a mere fraction of that of plastic or paper bags. By most calculations, once you’ve used your reusable supermarket bag just ten times, you’re ahead of the game versus both plastic and paper bags. You can depend on your reusable bags for everything – visits to the supermarket, pharmacy, bakery, arts & craft store, you name it. I even keep a couple of nicer bags (that haven’t housed packages of ground beef, say) on hand for when I go clothes shopping.
So, BYOB, and help make Rye a greener, cleaner town!
— The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee