Over the last few years, Hawaii has made great strides in reducing its use of plastic bags, including a plastic bag ban, which was recently amended on January 1, 2021. We’re now moving towards eliminating single-use plastic, the leading cause of pollution world-wide. Single-use plastic is a cheap and convenient option for restaurants, grocery stores, on-the-go lunches, and more, but using them is harmful for the environment, both on land and in the ocean.
Common single-use plastics include:
- Shopping/Grocery Bags
- Coffee Cup Lids
- Water Bottles
- Takeout Containers
Single-use plastics, especially smaller items such as bags, cutlery, or straws, are often not accepted at recycling centers because of their small or odd sizes. When left unrecycled, plastic breaks up into smaller pieces to form ‘microplastics’.
It’s estimated that nearly 50 trillion microplastic pieces, or about 236,000 metric tons, are floating in the ocean. Microplastics are extremely dangerous for marine life, often mistaken for food. It’s also harmful to humans as they may enter our food chain.
Here are some easy ways to reduce or even eliminate single-use plastics from your daily life and help keep Hawaii trash free:
- Find the updated January 2021 Plastic Bag Ban Information Sheet here: https://www.opala.org/pdfs/solid_waste/PBB%20Tip%20Sheet%202020_DFWO%20Amendments.pdf
- Tiny plastic pieces are spread throughout the deep sea (National Geographic):