Plastic checkout bags represent one of the greatest environmental catastrophes of our generation.
Plastics take hundreds of years to break down in water and most types never truly biodegrade. As a result, marine animals often get entangled in the debris or mistake it for food. In urban areas like Chicago they can also clog storm water drains and litter the landscape resulting in urban blight and increased cleanup costs to taxpayers.
Over 1 billion plastic checkout bags are used each year in Illinois, requiring ever-increasing demands on natural gas and oil. Sadly, only 1.5% of those bags are recycled and cities, counties, and non-profit organizations must pay millions each year to clean up plastic litter.
The good news is that the City of Chicago is considering legislation to address these issues!
In 2008, two Aldermen introduced legislation to ban the bag in Chicago. The supporters of this ordinance eventually compromised to accept a recycling program in the city, which has done virtually nothing to improve the situation. It’s time to revisit the issue and show the world that Chicago is a leader that knows how to get important things done!
This new ordinance would restrict plastic checkout bags at most retailers over 5,000' and include an outreach program to distribute and encourage reusable bags. Chicago should join the growing number of cities in the U.S. and worldwide that are responding to this important environmental issue.
The Surfrider Foundation Chicago Chapter supports the ban on single-use plastic bags within the City of Chicago, which will further reduce waste and encourage people to shop with reusable bags. Such an ordinance is needed to help prevent plastic pollution, protect our Great Lakes, save money and reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources.
Please participate in the action below to send a letter of support to Mayor Emanuel. We encourage you to personalize your letter!