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Plastic is devastating our ecosystem

The Denver City Council deserves a shout-out for recently passing an ordinance charging a fee if customers take their purchases home in a retail store’s plastic bags. Plastics are forever. And, not in a good way.  

We eat, drink and breath them. As one news headline recently noted, “You’re probably eating plastic for dinner; you just don’t know it yet.” The culprits are everywhere, in our water, shellfish, toothpaste, salt and beer. Yes, beer! 

Every load of wash releases millions microplastics, especially from those beloved fleece jackets. And more are released with each flush.

Over time, plastics degrade into microplastic fragments we can’t see. Animals and fish consume them and then we consume them. These microplastics float unseen through the air. About a half-pound ends up in our stomachs each year, over 120,000 microplastics annually. 

The impact of plastics on our oceans and wildlife is devastating. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean is almost six times the size of Colorado, composed of fishing nets, trash, and, of course, tons of plastic debris.  

Google the numerous heart-wrenching pictures of dead whales, their stomachs filled with plastic and trash, or watch the video of a plastic straw being removed from an endangered sea turtle’s nose. 

Even if we recycle our plastic bags, it takes about 10 to 20 years for them to decompose in landfills. Plastic bottles take 450 years. Other plastic items can take up to 1,000 years, shedding more microplastic shards into the air and water. 

True, banning plastic bags won’t solve our plastic problem. But, cities in Colorado that charge fees for plastic bags are creating an awareness of the bigger problem and motivating all of us to make our earth cleaner and healthier while educating and inspiring others.

This is a start.  Bring reusable bags to the store; it’s not a new concept.  But, to really make a difference, we need smart public policies, better recycling technology, alternative packaging, and new business models.

Barbara Wolpoff

Boulder

Marilee Menard

Westminster

Time for a closer look at RTD

With a window of opportunity opening but once every five years for a Regional Transportation District audit, would not this be a wonderful opportunity to delve deeper into its internal operations?

In the coming election year, should not both the legislators and taxpayers have much greater knowledge as to where our money is spent by an organization with a highly paid upper management staff? It is continuing to expand in the face of declining ridership, especially by building rail track milage while it cannot at present seem to find sufficient operators to operate on its present routes.

In addition to a "fare-box audit," is it not also time to conduct a compensation audit, and possibly audits into other areas of RTD’s domains such as surplus property retentions?

Russell W Haas

Golden 

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