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Queens Chronicle

We need the bag bill

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

Bravo to the City Council for introducing a common-sense bill aimed to reduce the number of unnecessary plastic bags used by shoppers (“How would bag fee law actually work?” and “Dime-a-bag bill doesn’t look promising,” Editorial, Oct. 10).

Plastic bags end up in our rivers, lakes and oceans, which are swallowed by or wrapped around the necks and fins of sea animals, maiming and strangling sea turtles, dolphins, fish, and whales, causing long-term suffering and death. The bags also poison the water by leaching chemicals into it. Plastic bags take years to begin to break down and when they do, toxins used in the bags leach into the environment, poisoning everything around them. Giant swaths of plastic bags are seen floating in the waters, the largest of which is thought to be the size of Texas. Unless the use of plastic bags decreases, it will continue to grow, acting as a trap for fish and sea dwelling mammals, as well as destroying entire eco systems.

These are much huger problems than worrying about how to regulate the 10-cent charge at self-checkouts and making that a reason to not have the law.

Charging a fee for bags at cashier checkouts, which make up the majority of store checkouts, will tremendously reduce the number of these hazardous bags and also help shoppers to think twice about unnecessary bagging and bringing their own canvas bags, which some but not enough shoppers are doing already.

I have seen cashiers mindlessly give a bag for one tube of toothpaste and the shopper mindlessly accept it when they have a large purse or knapsack to simply toss the item into. This is habitual, irresponsible and thoughtless behavior with no awareness of the dangers of these completely unnecessary bags.

Let’s start thinking outside ourselves and live an eco-and animal-friendly existence, especially when it is so simple: always carry a folded up canvas bag in your purse or knapsack, bring several for weekly shopping trips, actively tell cashiers at check out “I don’t need a bag”, and surely reject double bagging unless absolutely needed. The innocent sea turtles and dolphins, and our planet, will thank you.

Joyce Friedman
Forest Hills

Welcome to the discussion.