Late Monday night, the Albuquerque City Council voted 5-3 to pass a weakened Clean and Green ordinance that will end single-use plastic bags in retail but allows restaurants to distribute single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers.
Sierra Club’s Global Warming Emergency (formerly Global Warming Express) kids, who have been advocating for such an ordinance since the beginning of the year, waited for four hours to speak on the importance of ending the proliferation of single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers that create microplastic and nanoplastic pollution that could endanger our health, in addition to damaging our oceans and killing wildlife.
Councilor Ken Sanchez introduced an amendment to exempt restaurants, essentially continuing unabated distribution of plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers.
“I want to thank Councilors Ike Benton, Pat Davis and Diane Gibson for fighting for the Clean and Green ordinance, and Councilors Borrego and Sanchez for voting to make Albuquerque bag-free. We lit the fire,” said Derrick Toledo, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Clean-Energy Fellow. “We’ll keep working on the rest.”
This is what some of the Global Warming Emergency members had to say about the City Council’s ruling to ban only plastic bags:
“I feel like it’s a step towards a better Albuquerque… it can be known as the land of enchantment, not the land of trash.” — Alex age 10
“I’m glad that the plastic-bag part passed, but I’m surprised straws didn’t pass, because straws are plastic and they’re too small to recycle. I’m going to come back next year and ask for straws and styrofoam.” — Athena, age 8
“It’s really exciting to see the plastic bag part of the ordinance passed. It’s a step to cleaning up Albuquerque and making it better for kids. Hopefully we get straws and styrofoam passed next.” — Adrian, age 10
“I’m feeling good about what passed so far… but styrofoam breaks into so many microplastics; it travels to our soils and waters. I want to continue working on that next.” — Liam, age 10
“I’m glad that we were able to get part of it passed, but a little upset, and will definitely keep pushing to ban straws and styrofoam.” — Suki, age 9
“I’m glad they banned plastic bags, but I don’t get why they didn’t ban plastic straws. I feel frustrated!” — Sage, age 9