Published by PETA.

The following article was written by Megan Bedard.

They amass in the ocean, forming giant wads of toxic material and killing sea animals who eat them. They clog up drainage systems and sit in landfills for centuries. Experts estimate that we use between 500 billion and 1 trillion of them a year globally. What is this atrocity? Plastic bags.

Conveniently disposable yet durable, plastic bags are everywhere. Trouble is, their most sellable qualities—durability and ubiquity—are what make them an environmental nightmare.

So it was good news this week when Hawaii decided as a state to say “No” to plastic bags.

The Aloha State, known for its gorgeous blue waters teeming with flora and fauna, has decided to protect its ecosystem by banning plastic bags statewide.

Plenty of cities and counties have already done as much, but this is the first time that a state has enacted a ban.

For animals in and around Hawaii, this is especially good news. Conservationists estimate that at least 100,000 mammals and birds die every year as a result of coming into contact with plastic bags. Fish fare even worse: Conservationists suspect that they die by the millions each year because of plastic bags.

With Hawaii’s new ban, the state is making a statement: Small changes in habit can make a big difference. Here are three lifestyle changes that you can make:

  1. Stop eating meat. Did you know that, according to a 2008 German study, a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than a vegan’s diet is? Get started skipping the steak with PETA’s recipe list.
  2. Catch bugs humanely. You don’t need to swat ’em! PETA has an insect catcher. Get one in time for summer.
  3. Use your Facebook for good. Admit it: You’ve got Facebook open right now. Use it to help animals! Need ideas? Try PETA’s ways to “never be silent” on Facebook.

The bottom line is, a little gesture goes along way. So while we wait for the other 49 states to take the plastic-ban plunge, do your part to make the world a better place.

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