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 won our first victory for the Bay in the fall, when Barrington became the first Rhode Island municipality to ban the bag. If enough of us speak out, we’re can to build on that momentum and ban the bag statewide.

We helped ban plastic bags locally in Barrington, and now we’re working in other places in Rhode Island that are considering similar steps. With a statewide bill headed to the legislature in its next session, this is the chance for Rhode Island to be the first to ban plastic bags at a state level.

Join our campaign today to ban plastic bags: Send your legislature a message today!

Issue updates


Miranda Bertholet: Protect public lands

For everyone who loves Rhode Island's beaches, the new year -- and a new Congress -- could bring new promise that Rhode Island's beaches and public lands will be protected for generations to come.

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Bristol Considering Plastic Bag Ban

In early January, Barrington implemented a new town ordinance to ban plastic bags from stores and restaurants, and now town council members in Bristol are proposing a similar action.

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Stable Funding to Protect Rhode Island's Beaches

Rhode Island’s beaches and public lands are protected and conserved in part through federal funds, and this support is at risk. But the new year––and a new Congress––could bring new promise that these beaches and public lands will be protected for generations to come.

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Bristol Next to Consider Plastic Bag Ban

The movement to ban plastic bags is gaining momentum in Rhode Island. Barrington became the first municipality to outlaw plastic bags, and now Bristol is taking a serious look at the idea.

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R.I. Needs to Reel in Plastic Bag Waste

Plastic bags have been waving from trees and clogging storm drains since the 1960s. These petroleum-based pouches have become the unofficial flags of a throwaway society. So how do we stop these plastic parachutes from muddling windswept landscapes and degrading the environment? Do we even have the political and/or societal will do so?

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