Bali trip highlights pollution

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To the Editor:

I wanted to write in to tell readers about the dangers of single-use plastic bags, but it looks like there have been enough letters to the editor with enough data. I think we all know by now that they are not good for the environment, and if not, then check out this site: vineyardconservation.org.

What I did want to mention, though, is that you have a chance, when voting in your town elections, to make a difference. It is very easy for us to become stuck in our ways. I have been guilty of this myself too often. I know the dangers of single-use plastic: I taught this subject, I created a school for environmental studies, I spearheaded a successful campaign to rid one school in Los Angeles of styrofoam, etc. But yes, even I will still forget my reusable bags and think nothing of using a plastic one.

All of this changed recently when I was on a trip to Bali, and got my first glimpse of a beach absolutely destroyed by plastic. At first I thought the trash must have been left over from a beach party the night before, but after sitting among yogurt cups and Cheeto bags, I watched with horror and realized that the trash was coming from the Indian Ocean. This was trash that was blown out to sea, or down the storm drains — I can’t even begin to imagine the damage to sea life that must be occurring as I type this. The Balinese have banned plastic bags (to begin in 2017), but really everyone needs to do it now, and not just plastic bags, but all single-use plastic. Maybe we need to change our ways, and take a little time to make sure our reusable bags are in the car, but it would be much, much easier if stores just didn’t carry them at all. This is why I shop at Cronig’s. I refuse to shop somewhere that blatantly pollutes our environment and doesn’t give me an option not to. We all need to pitch in, and you have it easy here because you live on a small Island. This should be an easy vote (it took over two years to get the styrofoam ban in L.A.).

We all need to do something. The students at West Tisbury School created a group called Straw Free MV (check them out on FB), and asked Martha’s Vineyard restaurants to stop using plastic straws, or at the very least stop putting one in drinks even before someone asks for one. This is why I eat at the Right Fork Diner and Atria, because they have switched to paper straws. We all need to do our part; we all know the damage caused by these bags, but you have a chance to help. You have it easy: All you need to do is vote.

Annemarie Ralph

West Tisbury