EDITORIAL—by Christopher M. Halleron
As every single media outlet you encounter throughout the day will remind you, today is Earth Day.
Sadly, as we gather around to hug our trees here in Hoboken, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll look up to see a polyethylene plastic bag rustling in the branches.
For years there has been a discussion about taking steps to remove plastic bags from Hoboken retailers—or at the very least curb their use.
Other nations, other states, other cities have taken these steps. Even our loud, noisy neighbors to the east are weighing the option. While they’re not necessarily the easiest steps to take, they’re certainly worth taking.
Hoboken sits at the mouth of the Hudson River, which flows into New York Harbor and directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Plastic bags are very dangerous for sea life—especially dolphins, seals or turtles, as they are the most likely to mistake the plastic bag for food. Provided they don’t asphyxiate from initially ingesting the bag, they’re facing slow and painful death from toxicity or intestinal blockage.
— Ryan Bensley (@RBenso) March 23, 2015
Then there’s the overall effect of floating trash. Polyethylene is not readily biodegradable, which means this stuff will be floating around for the foreseeable future.
It’s up to us to do everything we can to keep these items from entering our ecosystem. The less plastic bags we use, the less likely they are to find their way into the trees or rivers.
Small business owners should consider the potential marketing benefits of proactively seeking alternatives. Larger corporate chains who seek to make Hoboken their next conquest—it would be a decent gesture to show you actually care about the local environment. Opportunistic politicians fond of photo ops, consider the legacy.
Meanwhile, there’s no need to wait for the government to tell us to stop using harmful items. As consumers and endusers we can take our own steps to wean ourselves off these items until their use is no longer seen as a necessity. Many of your friends and neighbors are already using alternative bags when they head out shopping. With a little forethought and conscientious consumerism, the plastic bag could soon go the way of the styrofoam container.
As spring takes hold here in Hoboken and the trees are in bloom, take a moment to enjoy the view—but be conscious of the amount of plastic you see cluttering up the view. Fact is, it’s avoidable.