Plastic Bag Ban Helps Marine Life

By Claire Cooperman

You stand on the boardwalk facing the beach. The sky is gray, and the wind from the storm blows strong, though the rain stopped hours before. In your hand, you hold a garbage bag and gloves as you prepare yourself for the hours of picking up garbage ahead of you. Plastic cups, bottles, bags, straws, and other single-use items litter the beach. Single-use plastic bags float in the air. All of this garbage will eventually make its way into the ocean, harming the sea life that lives there. You know you will do anything to prevent that from happening. If only one little bit of action could be taken. You walk onto the beach, ready to make the environment safer, healthier, and cleaner.

Now ocean lovers have some good news. The Borough of Bradley Beach passed a plastic bag ordinance on January 1 that prohibits stores and businesses from giving out plastic carryout bags with customers’ purchases. In order to receive a reusable or paper bag, the customer will have to pay 5 cents. This ordinance was issued in order to keep the beach, lakes, and overall community cleaner and safer for wildlife.

Manufacturing these non-reusable plastic bags also depletes the natural resources on Earth, increases litter in the town, and unnecessarily uses non-renewable fossil fuels. The ordinance states, “The reduction in the use of single-use plastic carryout bags helps to protect the marine environment, advance solid waste reduction, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and keep waterways clean.”

Many people believe that lots of negative environmental impacts could be eliminated if towns could just ban plastic bags. Some people don’t believe in banning plastic bags at all, saying it is inconvenient, while others don’t think the ban will even work and believe more action should be taken. Below are a few residents and their thoughts on this ban.

Daniel Cooperman, a Bradley Beach resident, surfer (and my father) is in support of the plastic bag ban. He says, “I’m glad to see that our town is concerned about single-use plastic bags, and is encouraging the community to limit their usage.” He also stated that so many different kinds of plastics make their way into the ocean. “After a significant storm our beaches are littered with plastic,” he added.

Another resident, Patti Redowsky, said, “It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but I’m already acclimated to food shopping with recyclable bags, so if it helps contain pollution I am on board.” How would it feel having to pay an extra 5 cents when you go to a local store and forget a reusable bag? Then if  you don’t want to pay, you have to carry everything you buy in your hands. This explains one of the inconveniences of the plastic bag ban.

Carol Beck, another resident and dog owner, also favors the ban. She stated, “I have five recyclable bags in my car and I’m getting better about bringing them into the store.” This plastic bag ban may be annoying and inconvenient in the beginning, but eventually, it will become a routine to bring reusable bags with you when you shop. Carol also said, “Once other towns follow Bradley Beach, more people will get accustomed to bringing their bags into stores.” Bradley Beach could start a whole chain of plastic bag bans if other towns notice the good consequences of it.

More than a dozen New Jersey towns ban some kinds of plastics, including Belmar, and Monmouth Beach, which also prohibits styrofoam and straws, according to News 12 New Jersey.

Some critics argue that the ban does not go far enough. Plastic knives and forks, garbage bags, and other plastic bags used to hold grocery products are exempt, for example.

But Nora Gregory, a seventh-grader at BBES, said the ban will definitely help. “The other day, there was a plastic bag just floating around in the street because it was really windy, and that’s why we should have a ban on plastic bags, so we can keep our town clean,” she said. The plastic bag ban would also keep our environment safe for the numerous animals that live here. Bradley Beach is surrounded on three sides by water and plastic bags will eventually end up harming the animals that live in and around those bodies of water.

Now you see the good and bad things about the plastic bag ban and what some people from our community think about it. The plastic bag ban is good for the environment and will reduce litter in the town, but it also is an inconvenience for shoppers if they don’t bring reusable bags. So, what are your thoughts on this ban? Are you in support of it, or against it?


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