No one likes to swim with trash and neither do marine animals. That’s why the continued trend of banning plastic bags in Hawaii will be a positive change for the environment and a small sacrifice in keeping the islands beautiful.

Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags a year.

Kauai and Maui Counties started the trend last year, with the Big Island and (possibly) Oahu following suit. The Honolulu City Council just approved the bill, but the governor makes the final decision, which would take effect in 2015. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Governor Peter Carlisle gave no indication of signing the measure but did point out that properly discarded plastic bags are currently being incinerated and converted into energy. I interviewed the governor at the recent Mauka to Makai Environmental Expo and got the impression that he was committed to protecting the environment. Hopefully, I was right, and he approves the bill.

If the ban becomes law, consumers may use reusable bags, biodegradable plastic bags or paper bags. Grocers are concerned with the increased costs of providing such bags, which, will eventually impact the consumers. Because of this, a possible fee for bags is also being considered.

If plastic bags aren’t recycled, then they most likely end up in the ocean. Marine life mistake the clear jelly-fish-looking bags as food or become entangled in the debris. I’m no hippy, but I think we owe it to them and to future generations to make this minor persion from habit. Our grandparents never used plastic bags, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for us. (Maybe for my mom, though, who has a stash of them that we tease her about. In a go-green effort and as a practical joke, her friend bought her a mound of reusable bags for Christmas. Hehe.)

These Hawaiian print reusable totes have become hot items in Hawaii.

Some Hawaii hotels have already moved into that direction, providing or selling reusable totes to their guests. The bags promote eco-friendliness and make great souvenirs. You can find cute Hawaiian print ones or ones with locally-inspired designs at most farmers markets or craft fairs. You might even want to bring some bags from home before your Hawaii vacation. If you don’t use them for shopping, then they come in handy when carrying beach or hiking gear.

Photo Credit: Noa Myers

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