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

Report | Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center

Frightening Facts about Narragansett Bay

On Halloween, Environment Rhode Island released Frightening Facts about Narragansett Bay, a fact sheet that compiles ten of the most "scary" realities facing Rhode Island’s most iconic waterway. The fact sheet comes on the heels of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement of its intention to move forward with a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands across the country.

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News Release | Environment Rhode Island

Obama Administration Should Use Sound Science to Protect Rhode Island’s Waterways

The Obama administration has taken a significant step forward in clarifying the science connecting America’s waterways and the drinking water for millions across the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board released a report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, which reviews the scientific literature outlining the impact that small waterways have on larger bodies of water downstream. 

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News Release | Environment Rhode Island

10,000 more petition signatures for the plastic bag ban

As the annual International Coastal Cleanup in Rhode Island approaches, Environment Rhode Island released its summer tally of petitions collected in support of a ban on plastic bags in Rhode Island. Plastic bags are consistently among the top items found in the annual cleanup. From May through August, Environment Rhode Island canvassers knocked on doors across the state to educate residents about the group's campaign to ban plastic shopping bags. Over the course of the summer, the group collected more than 10,000 petition signatures from Rhode Island residents in a support of a statewide ban on plastic bags, to be delivered to state senators and representatives in their respective districts.

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News Release | Environment Rhode Island

Environment Rhode Island announces policy priorities for 2013

With Rhode Island’s legislative session underway, Environment Rhode Island announced its 2013 legislative agenda.

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News Release | Environment Rhode Island

Bill introduced to ban plastic bags in Rhode Island

A bill to ban plastic checkout bags statewide was introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. The bill prohibits the distribution of disposable plastic shopping bags at the point of sale by Rhode Island retailers, effective January 2014 for large retailers and January 2015 for small businesses.

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