As we report in this week’s issue, the Madison County Board of Supervisors has proposed a new law banning the use of plastic grocery bags in the county. The law seeks to protect the environment, reduce pollution, control litter and improve the aesthetics of the county by eliminating the single-use plastic carryout bag from certain retail stores. A public hearing is scheduled for May 9.
Our first thought on hearing about this law was that it was just another example of unnecessary government overreach, a government body yet again trying to tell citizens — and businesses — how we can and should live our lives. Are plastic bags the problem when it comes to the harm they do to the environment and the aesthetics of our communities, or is the problem the litterbugs who throw these bags out the window, clogging up our streets and entangling the plastic in bushes and trees? This is like the argument: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Similarly, plastic bags do not litter our communities, the people who leave them on the ground litter our communities.
However, upon deeper reflection, we see the positives of this proposed law. Plastic bags are horrible for the environment and terrible to see blowing around the streets; why do we need them? Paper bags work fine (and they will still be used by stores under the proposed law) but, a better argument is, having reusable cloth bags just makes sense. Keep them in your car, wash them when they get dirty, and think of all the plastic removed from the world. All this law necessitates is a simple lifestyle change (remembering to bring the bags will be the challenge at first for most people).
The public feedback on this issue we have received so far in person and on our social media pages has been overwhelmingly in favor of the law. We have received Facebook comments saying how simple the change is, that it is about time such a law was proposed and citing other towns and states that already have such bans in place. One comment said, “It’s got to happen everywhere. Madison County has the opportunity to position itself as a leader.” We like that sentiment; if we are going to do it, let’s lead the way.
We support this law. How do you feel about it? The county board of supervisors has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, in the board chambers at the Madison County Office building in Wampsville. We encourage all of our readers to attend and make their opinions known.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.