Stop Georgia House Bill 444

Dew Abides, HB 444, plastic bag ban, photo courtesy of Flickr and Jedimentat44

Usually The Dew focuses on individual actions that simplify life and make the environment better. But sometimes our politicians make such irresponsible, self-serving decisions that we have no choice but to take a broader stand and encourage others to do so.

Such is the case now.

The Georgia Senate recently voted to stop local governments from banning plastic bags, saying “it would be too expensive and ‘confusing’ for local retailers to worry about.”  This, despite the fact that plastic bags accumulate in economically- and environmentally-valuable streams, reefs and beaches, sea turtles suffocate from eating the bags, and dolphins have been found with bags wrapped around their fins.

The House Agriculture Committee passed their version of the bill, called HB 444, and it’s on the way to the House floor — which means it’s time for Georgia residents to make our voices heard. We’re asking all local readers to contact your House representative about this issue, and here’s how to find your legislator.  If you’re not sure which is your district, just type your address in the search engine on the right.

As an environmental scientist and someone who regularly participates in stream cleanups, I can tell you firsthand how many of these things end up in our rivers and creeks. And for most of us, that’s our drinking water. The danger is plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade — breaking down into tiny bits that contaminate soil and water and enter the food chain when eaten by animals. Many European countries have already banned phthalates, the chemicals that make plastic bags soft and flexible, because of the health risks.

The alternative is so simple that no one benefits from this bill except politicians and bag manufacturers. We have to take a stand in Georgia and set the precedent for other state battles, which I guarantee are coming.

Our friends at GreenLaw created the flyer below with some great talking points, and the Florida Sierra Club has a useful reference sheet as well. Environment Georgia even has an online letter you can sign that will be routed straight to your legislator. By all means, fill out the online form, but an additional phone call or printed letter would make a huge difference.

Please share this post and help get the word out before our local governments lose the right to protect their economy, their resources, and their communities.

Flyer Plastic Bags

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