Why Indiana can't ban plastic bags

We’ve all seen it: pictures of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of five accumulations of trash floating in the world’s oceans. Located between California and Hawaii, the Great Pacific patch is twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France, according to scientists.

Research estimates that there are more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch — bottles, fishing nets, straws (cue mental images of the sea turtle) and more. That also includes bags. 

These plastics can harm both wildlife and humans, especially when they break down into what are called microplastics, which never fully disappear but get into the food chain. The plastic pollution problem is real, and it’s serious.

A handout photo made available by The Ocean Cleanup shows the company's ocean cleanup prototype System 001/B capturing plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in the Pacific Ocean, on September 30, 2019. The self-contained system uses natural currents of the sea to passively collect plastic debris in an effort to reduce waste in the ocean.

Many Hoosiers are concerned about plastic bags, in particular. Even though they are just one type of single-use plastic contributing to the plastic pollution problem, several readers submitted questions to the Scrub Hub asking about what they can do with plastic bags. One even went so far as to say, “it seems like the bags are really not environmentally friendly at all.” 

That’s why, for this edition of the Scrub Hub, we will be looking at the questions: What’s the solution to stopping use of plastic bags? Can we ban these bags in Indiana? 

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