Media release | Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club
EARTH DAY: A Green Bill On the Cusp
With only days remaining in the session, the Legislature considers a bill to significantly reduce paper and plastic bags
HONOLULU, HAWAII – Friday, April 22 is Earth Day, and while citizens statewide will be doing their parts to reconnect with the environment, politicians are considering one measure that could help curb Hawaii’s mounting trash problem. Senate Bill 1363 would place a small fee on most paper or plastic grocery bags used in the state, while leaving the current plastic bag bans on Maui and Kauai alone.
Statement of Robert D. Harris, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter
This Earth Day, elected leaders have an opportunity to make a lasting difference for Hawaii’s environment. With the buzz around “sustainability,” Hawaii could become the first state to significantly reduce the number of single-use grocery bags, whether paper or plastic, used each year.
Approximately 500 million single-use bags are wasted in Hawaii each year. On a national level, the United States uses 12 million barrels of a rare, natural resource — oil — to create products that are used for just a few minutes and then thrown away. That’s approximately twice as much oil per year then spilled by the entire Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill.
SB 1363 is modeled on a similar measure passed in D.C., which reduced the number of paper and plastic bags used in the first year by nearly 85 percent.
The intent of this bill is to change minds, not to pick people’s pockets. The “fee” placed on the paper and plastic bags is a completely avoidable. That being said, this bill is a creative means to tackle an environmental problem while simultaneously generating revenue to help the state with its deficit problem.
It’s astonishing the level of support SB 1363 has garnered. From major retailers like Safeway and Times, to marine scientists, and schoolchildren, residents of Hawaii understand the need to reduce the amount of trash we produce. Plastic bags in particular, are viewed as having a disproportionately negative impact on the environment. They are the “low-hanging fruit” of trash that can be easily replaced by a greener reusable product.
Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club
Founded in 1968, the Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club is the state’s largest and most active grassroots environmental organization. The Club actively promotes reducing the impacts of global climate change by encouraging the development of clean renewable energy, promoting sustainable practices, and ensuring our fragile native habitat is protected from harm.