Online petition aims for a plastic-free Guam

(PNC photo)

According to Waste Free Guam, the average American uses about six plastic bags a week.

Guam – About 18 tons of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year, and according to Jenifer Burney from the Micronesian Conservation Coalition, that waste makes its way into our waters.

Choking our marine life, filling our landfills, and littering our public spaces, plastic bags are quickly becoming the environment’s number one offenders.

According to Waste Free Guam, the average American uses about six plastic bags a week.

That’s a little over three hundred bags a year. By this estimation, one person alone could use roughly 25,000 plastic bags in their lifetime.

That may be a lot of waste, but Jenifer Burney says it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

“I think what people don’t realize is that [when] you are using a plastic bag, that’s an average of 12 minutes for the average consumer depending on how long they hold onto each bag,” said Burney.

She warns, “But it could take up to a thousand years to actually break down.” And that problem was what spurred Burney to action.

“I started Waste Free Guam just as a social media thing just to get people interested in how we can learn about waste free living and how to reduce our waste problem on Guam,” Burney said.

So far, the petition to “ban the bag” has already garnered over 500 signatures, surpassing her target goal.

“I’m hoping for even more than that. The more signatures, the better. 500 –it’s a big accomplishment goal to reach, but the more people we can get to sign, the more it is going to mean to legislatures, when I bring it to them. I’m hoping for at least two months from now, just to give it time so I can build it up to at least 1000 people,” she said.

She says little changes like swapping out paper for plastic at the grocery store could have a huge impact.

“The thought with Waste Free Guam was to start teaching people about what alternatives are out there. And maybe get businesses interested in using those alternatives. It would be something along the road in a few years. We don’t want to put anyone out of business by forcing an immediate ban on plastic bags. The goal would really be to work with legislatures to have a time frame in place maybe two or three years down the road. That would give businesses time to actually find those alternatives they can use to supply to customers,” Burney explained.