Hawaii is officially the first U.S state to have a statewide ban on plastic bags. Huge credits to local activists and volunteers who fought and built support for the ban. This amazing development is big statement for the environment conscious community, with the fact that the statewide ban was not actually a law on a state level. It was a separate effort of all four counties of Hawaii.
On May 10, 2012, Honolulu has joined the other three counties of Hawaii after legislators finally signed the bill to ban plastic bags. This made Hawaii officially the first U.S. state to have a statewide plastic bag ban with all its four counties implementing it in their own counties.
The accomplishment was not achieved overnight. It took two years for the legislators to finally see and realize the effects of pollution on the beautiful island of Hawaii. Plastic bag was one of the major contributor of pollution, and where even pointed out as the cause of several sea animals like turtles that were found to have died in the process of ingesting plastics.
Congratulations to the legislators for doing this right.But the main credit should go to a local volunteer who got the County of Honolulu and its legislature to pass a bill on plastic bag ban, Leilei Shih. The effort included organizing events making the people aware of the effect of plastic bags on the environment and the advantages of passing the bag ban. The have collected and submitted testimonials from random people who personally volunteered.
In some special instances the use of plastic bags are still permitted. A few of which are for use in handling frozen foods, live fish and pharmaceuticals. Otherwise, the use of non-biodegradable or non-reusable bags are banned and offenders, especially business establishments, would be fined for each day of violating the ban.
Despite the fact the Hawaii is only composed of four county. This is still a huge achievement that they should shout to the world. I see this as a baseline, for other countries or states in the U.S.
The challenge is on, let us see who would follow on Hawaii’s achievement. Who has the commitment and courage to do the same, knowing that they would definitely face opposition.