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Make ABQ a leader in clean and green

As a community action group in Albuquerque, we applaud Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Diane Gibson and Cynthia Borrego for their Bill No. O-19-48, “Albuquerque Clean and Green Retail Ordinance,” to limit the use of single-use plastics and containers within the city.

Single-use plastics represent the epitome of today’s throwaway culture. The U.N. Environment reports just nine per cent of the world’s nine billion tons of plastic has been recycled. It can take up to thousands of years for plastic bags and polystyrene containers to decompose. Most of this plastic ends up in landfills, water systems, the environment and, eventually, us.

According to the Clean and Green town hall at the Kimo Theater (on March 31), Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture, all for an average use of 12 minutes before being thrown away. Americans use 1.6 plastic straws per day, per person. That’s enough to wrap around the earth’s circumference 2.5 times a day! Styrofoam easily breaks down into tiny particles, but takes 100 to 1,000 years to fully degrade. All go into our soil, our water and eventually our consumption chains. Styrofoam products are toxic if ingested, and can damage nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

But plastics are also a scourge on the visual beauty of our most precious city resource: nature. Let’s keep Albuquerque beautiful, but also an example of a forward-thinking and appealing city for tourists, potential employers and future taxpayers. There are numerous innovative, cost-effective and environmentally responsible transport and take-out materials available. And consumers can readily re-use bags, bottles, coffee cups, etc. to take away products. All also present untold opportunities for new and innovative local entrepreneurs, opening new development venues for Albuquerque businesses.

Let’s join other dynamic and attractive U.S. cities, such as Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boulder, New York, Portland, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico’s Santa Fe, which have successfully enacted plastic straw and bag bans or fees.

Councilors Benton, Davis, Gibson and Borrego have turned to these cities to learn how best Bill No. O-19-48 can be adapted to Albuquerque’s needs. They have researched the potential financial impacts to local businesses, which show that merchants would incur a .02-cent increase in costs per bag and only .01-cent per straw, which could be passed on to consumers if they want. But, however it’s done, it’s a small price to pay for a cleaner and safer environment!

Let’s not only show Albuquerque as a leader in innovative legislation for the common good, but also create a safe and healthy environment for our city’s future residents and taxpayers: our children.