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Queens Chronicle

Use reusable bags

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

Re “How would bag fee law actually work?” and “Dime-a-bag bill doesn’t look promising,” Editorial, Oct. 10:

It distresses me to hear anyone (let alone politicians who are supposed to be more aware of “The Big Picture”) proclaiming that a fee on plastic shopping bags is a bad idea. It’s an initiative long overdue if we’re to get in step with the rest of the developed world.

When I was in Germany in 1983, no store provided bags. Everyone carried their own totes, as bags weren’t even available for a fee. In other parts of Europe, bans have been instituted. Even China, which produces the bags, has forbidden their sale or use in-country.

Having recycling bins in stores is only a feel-good measure and, the last I heard, plastic bags are not recyclable. As it is, maybe 1 percent of shoppers return them. Stand in any parking lot and you’ll see them a-flying out of the carts, due to over-bagging. Really, who needs double-bagging on a loaf of bread or roll of paper towels? Yet, double-bagging is the rule.

The cashiers are on auto-pilot and, look at you with a complete lack of comprehension when, having repeated “no plastic bags, please, I’ve brought my own totes” for the third time (and loud enough for the iPod to be superseded). They get very annoyed when you re-bag what they’ve done. I blame the store managers for being so ignorant.

I certainly wouldn’t mind paying for plastic for potentially leaking items. Big deal. Often, however, the store has a batch of bags with holes in the bottoms, which would defeat the purpose. Were bags banned at supermarkets, I’d simply make my own preparation and have a lined tote.

I can’t say there isn’t a valid reason for plastic bags at other types of stores, however, especially for clothes, books, etc., and particularly on a rainy day. But they needn’t be tissue-thin and fly-away. And again, there could be a fee.

For sharp items, such as from a hardware store (as cited in your editorial): If it’s sharp enough to pierce one bag, it’s surely sharp enough to pierce two or three or even four. A canvas tote is the more sensible solution.

As for self-checkout, bag dispensers could be installed, coin-operated (or by card). Personally, I never use self-checkout, as each one has cost people their jobs.

These bags are an unnecessary aesthetic blight and a disaster for the environment. They clog waterways and strangle wildlife. We all need to be more mindful of the results of our actions (and non-actions) and take responsibility on the individual level and for the greater good of all, now and for the future.

Willie Harrison

Welcome to the discussion.