Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill (SB 49) this term that would ban plastic bags in grocery stores.
It is still unclear whether progress will be made in legislation. However, environmental groups like Keep Golden Isles Beautiful believe the ban would limit the amount of litter on beaches and streets.
Keep Golden Isles Beautiful is a local affiliate of the national environmental agency Keep America Beautiful.
Lea King-Badyna, the chief executive of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, said it’s a problem in the coastal community because the flimsy plastic bags, which are a staple at most grocery and convenience stores, end up hanging from trees.
“We all know that plastic bags don’t grow on trees. So reducing the use of plastic bags would go a long way in reducing certain types of litter in the Golden Islands,” King-Badyna said.
Keep Golden Isles Beautiful volunteers collect excess litter and rubbish along the coastal community, but picking up behind others only goes so far.
King-Badyna believes that banning bags from grocery stores is a good start to raising awareness of how consumer choices impact the environment.
“If it were passed, it would definitely be a focus for people to change their personal habits and think about how they spend their money and how they go about their daily lives, and that has an impact on our local community and environment,” said King Badyna.
Plastic bags are also found in various bodies of water, including the ocean, where marine animals often mistake them for food.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year.
Sea creatures can suffocate or become entangled in plastic bags and drown.
So far, only eight out of 50 states have banned the use of plastic bags. These include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont.
If Georgia becomes the ninth state to ban plastic bags, the ban will go into effect on January 1, 2026.
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