Why didn’t Utah enact a plastic bag ban?

FILE – In this Jan. 10, 2019, file photo of a shopper carrying groceries in a plastic bag after shopping at Silver Street Market in downtown Albuquerque, NM The businesses of the most Greater New Mexico metro area are gearing up for rules coming into effect with the start of the new year that call for a ban on plastic bags. (Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

As one of the most beautiful states in the country, how did the people of Utah allow this one-time-use parody to slip under the rug? When I moved to Utah, I was excited about the outdoor opportunities that awaited me. The raw beauty of a state that is home to five national parks and access to nature in virtually everyone’s backyard prompted me to leave my home state of Iowa. It did not disappoint, but I was shocked to see a similar disregard for our natural spaces as I have witnessed across the country. My runs along the Murray Canal routinely include a daunting amount of litter on its banks. As compelling as it is to adjust my line of sight to the mountains around me, I can’t shake the image of the trash near my feet.

I decided to act. I drove down to the canal after work, unrolled my trash bag and started wading. I struggled with litter in the water and stretched to reach the plastics that slipped past me. A common theme I found in these waste transport exhibits was the abundance of single-use plastic, especially bags. As I became aware of the presence of litter in my environment, I started noticing it everywhere. Every drive along the highway, trip to a state park, walk to the grocery store, trip down the canyon. I see. Garbage.

I’m not naive enough to believe that a plastic bag ban in Utah solves this entire problem. I’m sure I’ll be hiking the Murray Canal to clear it of trash for years to come. But with the banning of plastic bags, we have an opportunity to reduce single-use plastic pollution and to think constructively about our single-use habits. An eye sore that we tolerate today means a life for an animal and thousands of tons of carbon emitted in the name of convenience. As stewards and community members, the least we can do to take care of our homes is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we consume, but if you are forced to do more and you want to join me in the channel, you are always welcome.

Vivian Broderick, Midvale

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Bryce K. Locke