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Plastic bags? #NotInProvidence

Alison Macbeth & Alexis Rapoza

Opinion & Asst. Opinions Editor

As of October 22, 2019 plastic bags have been banned from being distributed in Providence stores - and it is about time. According to the City of Providence website, “The ban seeks to reduce the number of plastic checkout bags in the City, curb litter in the streets, protect our waterways and marine environment while reducing greenhouse gas emissions through encouraging the use of reusable bags by prohibiting retailers from offering single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter.” 

Some people might be concerned with the lack of plastic blowing in the wind; however, there are exceptions for produce bags, laundry and dry cleaning bags as well as bags for frozen food and meat. And if you forget your reusable bags, retailers can still offer paper bags for their customers. 

Overall, this seems like a step in the right direction. Eliminating plastic bags will hopefully make a small dent in our climate crisis. Providence, although a small city, has taken a big step as an environmental leader in our nation. 

Here is what Rhode Island College students are saying about the plastic bag ban:

Andres (Political Science, Class of 2020) “As a student who has been trying to reduce their carbon footprint in small ways such as attempting to eliminate single-use plastics as well as meat and dairy consumption in my daily life, I understand that this is not enough. Although individuals hold an incredible amount of power alone, changes to aid the environment during its time of need and recuperation must begin where the damage once did: at the top, at both the corporate and government level. That being said, the ban on single-use plastic bags in Providence is a small but, nevertheless, a good step in the right direction. For some, it will definitely take some time to adjust. However, the attempt to reduce our negative impact on the environment through our egregious use of single-use plastics is the least we can do in our efforts to clean the Earth. Also, I think reusable tote bags are cuter.” 

Genesis (Political Science, Class of 2021) “Although Providence is a small city, I personally think that banning the use of plastic bags could truly make a difference to protect our environment. It could potentially also serve as an example for other places to implement a plastic bag ban.”

Justin (Communications & Public Relations, Class of 2020) “Like all bans, you have to give it a little bit of time to see if people will like it. But I’m all for it!”

Edwin (Undeclared, Class of 2023) “At first I was like ‘it sounds like a good idea’ but I saw a lot of small business owners say they were not going to participate so I do not know if it is going to work.” 

Amanda (Art & Film, Class of 2021) “I think it is a good idea. Everyone should just buy tote bags because they’re cute and reusable.” 

Slade (English and Secondary Education, Class of 2022) “I actually think it will be effective. People are going to be all up in arms about it because who likes change? But, we made the change from paper to plastic in the late 20th century, so I’m sure in the early 21st century we can make the change from plastic back to paper.”  

President Frank Sanchez “Reducing the amount of single-use plastic bags in our environment is one of the simplest and yet most effective things we can do to protect our environment. That’s why Rhode Island College has been leading without sustainability efforts for several years, particularly at Donovan Dining Center. We offer paper bags for carryout, paper straws, compostable paper plates and cups, and corn-based biodegradable cups for fountain drinks. We’ve installed roughly 30 water bottle filling stations around campus, which have prevented half a million single-use plastic bottles from ending up in the trash. Most of our campus is in Providence, so I applaud every effort to make the city around us greener. This is an important step towards reducing the amount of single-use plastic citywide.”