There is no way to put it delicately Israelis — it's time to get rid of the plastic bag fetish.
"Bags that cling to coral reefs strangle the coral to death in the same way that they can cause the death of a person whose head is wrapped in a plastic bag," said Benny Shalmon, the regional biologist of the Nature and Parks Authority of Eilat in a recent Haaretz expose on Israel's plastic bag problem. It's not just coral reef that are suffering: A few years ago a whale washed up on a beach in Israel. Autopsy reports indicated it died from the 4.5 kilograms of plastic bags it had wrapped up inside its belly. Dolphins are also dying from plastic being tossed into the Red Sea. "With all our good will as veterinarians who love these animals, we cannot chase bags in the water," says Dr. Alon Levy, from the Weizmann Institute of Science. "Fifty veterinarians with a hundred endoscopes cannot save one dolphin from idiotic environmental hazards such as plastic bags."
If saving the dolphins, whales, birds, foxes or coral reefs isn't enough to make you change your ways - take heed that the Environment Ministry is set to pass a bill that will charge every customer one shekel (about 25 US cents) for every plastic bag taken from the supermarket. Money collected will go to a clean-up fund, but the Ministry doesn't plan on making a lot of money. It hopes to abolish much of the 430 million bags given by Israeli stores every month. See also TreeHugger's coverage of plastic bags here, here on Africa, and a do-it-yourself shopping bag c/o Bonnie. ::Haaretz