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'Plastic bags are a nuisance. They litter our parks and trees, enter storm drains and can end up in rivers and oceans'

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - Sarah Higginbotham, state director for Environment Oregon, holds up a glass jar of "toxic soup," a collection of trash particles found in the ocean due to the misuse of plastic bags. 
Are you drowning in a pile of grocery store plastic bags? And have you tried to recycle your plastic bags lately? Retail stores are happy to fill their plastic bags with your groceries, but not happy to recycle them anymore.

Why? What happened?

China happened, and it has left us in our own plastic heap. Beginning Jan. 1, China announced they are no longer "the world's garbage dump."

About half the world's plastic and paper recycling projects were being shipped to China for processing. Eventually even China recognized the health and safety ramifications of accepting the world's waste. This has left not only the U.S. but also other nations to realize the ramifications of producing so much waste.

Plastic bags are a nuisance. They litter our parks and trees, enter storm drains and can end up in rivers and oceans where they break into small, toxic pieces. Plastic bags are one of the most common types of litter found in Portland's rivers and on Oregon's beaches.

Plastics are being eaten by fish and are finding their way into our food chain. This may be a wake-up call to consumers. Let's be realistic: It makes no economic sense to ship cheap plastic bags halfway around the world to recycle them. And currently they have nowhere to go but in our landfills. It's time to stop using them! What is more sustainable is focusing on using reusable bags.

Rosemary Clement

St. Helens

Contract Publishing

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