The widespread reliance on single-use plastic bags by retailers is economically inefficient, environmentally destructive and aesthetically unpleasant.

Other cities have taken steps to ban or reduce the distribution of these bags, and it’s time that New Orleans moves to provide a cleaner, greener environment for its citizens.

As one of the most environmentally jeopardized cities on the planet, and one of the largest tourist destinations in the American South, New Orleans should lead the charge to improve its visual appeal and ecological impact.

When retailers give away “free” plastic bags, they pass their increased overhead costs onto consumers through higher prices. Furthermore, these bags often end up as litter, which costs the city money to clean up.

Some people may attempt to reuse these bags, but this limited reuse is vastly outstripped by their distribution. Ultimately, the throw-away nature of single-use plastic bags harms consumers, businesses and the environment. Only the bag manufacturers benefit.

The plastic bag manufacturing process emits pollutants and contributes to climate change. In New Orleans, sea level rise threatens the very ground beneath our feet, while an ever-expanding dead zone wreaks havoc on our fisheries.

Unfortunately, marine wildlife often mistake plastic bags for food and die from their consumption. With an economy so dependent on seafood, it is irresponsible to allow these hazards to continue to threaten our fisheries and economy.

Finally, plastic pollution is ugly; New Orleans is beautiful. We have architecture, traditions and entertainment unlike any other city. When tourists arrive and see plastic bags blowing in the wind, littering our parks and marring our waterways, it detracts from the aesthetics of this incredible city. Tourism is the backbone of the New Orleans economy. We must not permit litter, especially preventable litter like single-use plastic bags, to detract from the value that tourists and locals place on New Orleans.

The residents of New Orleans deserve a cleaner and more environmentally friendly city. Banning the single-use plastic bag is the right choice for the environment, for businesses and for consumers. Forward-thinking cities around the country, including Austin, Texas; Washington D.C.; and San Francisco, have already banned the bags. It’s time for New Orleans to do the right thing.

Max Ciolino

president, NO Waste NOLA

New Orleans