By Earth Day in 2017 all single-use plastic bags would be banned in Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport, that’s at least the goal of Clean Ocean Access and their supporters.

Following the success of asking Newport City Council to support a resolution that would phase out the use of single-use plastic bags, Clean Ocean Access and members of the community are now asking Middletown Town Council and Portsmouth Town Council to join Newport and make it an island-wide ban.

Clean Ocean Access launched the following petition on this week;

We are requesting the City of Newport, Town of Middletown, and Town of Portsmouth to create an ordinance for the elimination of single-use carryout check out bags, 100% implemented by Earth Day 2017. It makes good sense for the community of Aquidneck Island to develop and implement an island-wide ordinance in a uniform and consistent manner.

COA supports the benefits of eliminating single-use plastic bags, as we have removed 10,547 plastic bags from the shoreline since 2013 and the percentage has increased each year. Aquidneck Island is dependent on a healthy ocean, it makes sense that ocean health is a constant priority and we are a seen as a leader for environmental sustainability.

The bag ordinance should have a strong message of sustainability with a focus on reducing the amount of material consumed, rather than recycling. It is not a question of “paper or plastic”, it needs a theme of “bring your own” with a focus on durable reusable bags.

The negative impact of single-use plastic bags is real. Caught in storm drains and it can lead to flooding, constantly are seen in trees and brushes, very difficult to remove, and can reduce ecosystem connectivity. They create artificial environments for water to pool rather than being absorbed into the ground, allowing for mosquitoes to breed. Bags break down into tiny pieces, can absorb toxins, and can become part of our food chain. The impact to marine life is perhaps the most visible in today’s world, the bags look just like jellyfish and are ingested mistakenly by sea life, and more and more we are hearing of dead marine life that contain some form of plastic.

COA believes that the elimination of single-use plastic is seen as a good first step to tickle moral persuasion so people start making better choices with a goal of reducing all single-use plastics. Thank you for protecting and improving the environment of Aquidneck Island.

The petition currently has more than 130 signatures, see the petition – Ban single-use plastic bags on Aquidneck Island.

Clean Ocean Access  continues to work with the City of Newport to develop the ordinance to phase out the use of single-use plastic bags.

More than 100 municipalities across the nation have placed restrictions on the use of plastic bags in their communities, Barrington became the first community in Rhode Island to ban plastic bags on January 1st, 2013.

Besides Clean Ocean Access’s efforts to “ban the bag”, they are also looking at ways to make it illegal to release balloons, looking at how to address the issue of straws litters our coastline and working to introduce a “leave no trace” requirement for all special events.

For more information on Clean Ocean Access, visit

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).