By Julie Lawson, Anacostia Watershed Society
Riding my bike to work last week I was struck by the huge volume of trash scattered on the banks of the Northwest Branch near the West Hyattsville Metro station. As usual, it was mostly plastic–bags, takeout containers, foam cups. A 2008 study of trash in the Anacostia River found that three-quarters of it was related to food convenience, all the stuff that we use once and throw away because we are eating on the run.
Of course this trash (generally) isn’t thrown directly into the water. It gets tossed out of a car window, or dropped on the sidewalk, or even just blows out of an overflowing trash can. We know a fair amount now about why some people litter but the real answer to cleaning up our community is to motivate people to use less to begin with.
Washington, DC, and Montgomery County have had great success in reducing litter by charging 5 cents on disposable bags. Just that little nickel reminds people to get their reusable bags out of their car before shopping, or to refuse a bag for a small purchase. Businesses save a lot of money when we all use fewer “free” bags. At the same time, people who do use disposable bags are putting their money toward litter cleanup and stream restoration, creating jobs and beautifying our neighborhoods.
Prince George’s County deserves the same benefits. The Maryland General Assembly will be considering Bill 401-13 this winter, to give the County Council the authority to create a disposable bag reduction program. Your delegates in Annapolis need to hear from you!
Click here to find your delegates’ phone numbers, and then take two minutes and call of each of them to tell them you support Bill 401-13.