Ross Mirkarimi is making sure no one is left holding the bag.
Ross Mirkarimi has found an easy way to lessen global warming, our dependence on foreign oil, and rapidly overflowing landfills. The solution is in the bag-literally. Each of our featherweight plastic shopping bags carries a hefty cost: Americans use 100 billion plastic bags each year, and toss the majority of them after a quick trip to the store. Since the bags take nearly a millennium to break down in landfills, they'll be haunting the planet long after we tote home the groceries. Today, local governments pay to have wind-blown bags plucked from trees and telephone wires; in San Francisco, cleanup efforts run as high as $8 million a year. Plus, more than a million sea birds and a hundred thousand marine mammals suffocate from plastic litter each year. "Long before I was elected," Mirkarimi says, "I've thought the plastic bag was emblematic of what our country and planet have been suffering from."Last spring, Mirkarimi began efforts to make the bag a historical relic. The 45-year-old member of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors authored legislation that bans plastic bags made of petroleum products from checkout counters at large supermarkets and pharmacies. "Banning a plastic bag is just a good first, small start," says Mirkarimi, a co-founder of California's Green Party. He estimates that the plastic prohibition will save 450,000 gallons of oil and prevent 1,400 tons of trash from ending up in a landfill annually.
|The plastic bag was emblematic of what our country and planet have been suffering from.|