Hundreds of millions of plastic bags

Rhode Islanders use hundreds of millions of disposable plastic bags every year—most of which we use only once, for the few minutes it takes us to get home from the store. Even when they make their way to landfills, these bags often end up getting carried by the wind into Narragansett Bay and our parks, beaches and rivers.

Marine environment in danger

Too many plastic bags end up as litter in Narragansett Bay and off our coast, and it's creating an ecological disaster:

  • Turtles, whales and other marine animals that pass through Rhode Island waters often mistake plastic bags for food, which can cause them to starve or choke to death. They can also get entangled in bags and drown or die of suffocation.
  • Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small pieces of plastic to their chicks, often causing them to die when their stomachs become filled with plastic.
  • As plastic bags break down into smaller fragments, fish and quahogs are vulnerable to the toxic pollutants they carry. Fish and clams are vital to the marine food chain and Rhode Island's economy.

Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the Bay for hundreds of years

Because they do not biodegrade, plastic from bags remains in our waters for hundreds of years, perhaps longer. Nothing we use for just five minutes should pollute Narragansett Bay for hundreds of years, spoiling its waters with trash and endangering the wildlife we treasure and depend on.

It’s time for Rhode Island to ban plastic bags

Luckily, the solution is simple: lawmakers can make Rhode Island an environmental leader by banning these plastic bags. 

We helped ban plastic bags locally in Barrington, and with a statewide bill being considered by state lawmakers, this is the chance for Rhode Island to be the first to ban plastic bags at the state level.

Join our campaign today to ban plastic bags: Send your state representative a message. 

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Rhode Island

Volunteers turn out for Rhode Island Plastic Bag Hunt

As Rhode Island lawmakers consider proposed legislation to ban plastic shopping bags statewide, approximately 75 volunteers and activists turned out Saturday 3/8 for the Rhode Island Plastic Bag Hunt, a statewide scavenger hunt for plastic bag litter hosted by Environment Rhode Island. Participants set out in teams and took photographs of plastic bags to complete a checklist––with items from "find a plastic bag on a beach or shoreline" to "find someone using a reusable bag".

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Rhode Island

Johnston senator sponsors bill to ban plastic bags statewide

State Sen. Frank Lombardo (Johnston) introduced a bill in the Rhode Island Senate to ban plastic bags statewide. A counterpart to the House of Representatives bill introduced last month by State Rep. Maria Cimini, the bill prohibits the distribution of disposable plastic shopping bags at the point of sale by Rhode Island retailers, effective January 2015 for large retailers and January 2016 for small businesses. 

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Plastic bag ban would protect wildlife

Tiverton oyster farmer makes case for plastic bag ban

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News Release | Environment Rhode Island

2014 statewide plastic bag ban introduced

State Rep. Maria Cimini (Providence) introduced a bill in the Rhode Island House of Representatives to ban plastic bags statewide. The introduction comes one day after advocacy group Environment Rhode Island delivered over 10,000 public comments to state lawmakers in support of a plastic bag ban in Rhode Island.

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