Plastic Bag Ban Makes Sense

There presently are 90 communities across the state that have banned the use of those ubiquitous single-use plastic bags that typically are found at check-out counters in all kinds of stores — and which then typically end up strewn by the wind across our beaches and end up in our coastal waterways.

The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill that would impose a state-wide ban, following the lead of Hawaii and California.

Environmental groups strongly support the ban, as does the Massachusetts Food Association, a trade group representing the supermarket and grocery store industry.

We also support a ban of these bags, which in our view represent the ultimate expression of our throw-away society that has proven so disastrous for our environment.

While these thin-film bags are recyclable on their own, they cannot be placed with other plastics because they literally will destroy the machines that process heavier plastics. (So if you are throwing these bags in with your plastic water bottles, you are doing more harm than good!)

However, looking at the larger picture, we are struck by this statistic: A full 32 percent of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans — the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.

Environmentalism is sort of like the weather: Everybody talks about it, but very few of us do anything about it.  But each of us must take some degree of personal responsibility for making the planet a better place. The new Netflix series on the environment is sad and scary, both for the ecological damage that we already have caused all over the world and for the implications for the future. One-use plastic bags certainly are convenient, but they are terrible for the environment. A ban on these bags will require each of us to bring a reusable bag for our shopping — but that degree of inconvenience is a small, small price to pay for making our environment a better place.

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