Galapagos Authorities Ban Plastic Shopping Bags

The Galapagos Islands are joining municipalities and governments around the world in banning single use plastic shopping bags. Beginning in August, the importation, distribution and sale of plastic bags will be officially prohibited, according to news reports in the islands. The goal of the new measure is to protect wildlife and cut back on litter and the amount of waste headed to local landfills. 

The project kicked off in December when Galapagos National Park officials, with help from students, began going door-to-door to pass out free, reusable cloth bags to residents and inform them about the impending ban. 

Authorities estimate that 4.5 million plastic bags are used in the Galapagos each year. Once a plastic bag makes it to the islands, is very difficult to get rid of. Most end up in open landfills. Conservationist estimate that plastic bags can take 200 to 1,000 years to fully break down. And even when they do eventually break down, they may release toxic chemicals into the environment including endocrine disrupting compounds that are harmful to humans and wildlife. 

Travelers should be advised not to bring plastic shopping bags to the islands beginning in August. 

Worldwide, it is believe that at least 1.5 million marine animals, including seabirds, turtles, and whales, are killed each year by plastic bags that wind up in the ocean. Our hats our off to GNP authorities for taking this small but important step to protect wildlife and make the islands cleaner and more sustainable. 


Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.

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