To the editor:
I whole heartedly agree with your editorial of Aug. 2, when you state that “plastic bags are such a heinous, nature killing disease.” Although there was a sarcastic note to your statement, the underlying issue is sound — plastic pollution is a health issue. Actually, all plastic — straws, lighters, sunglasses, etc. — not only plastic bags, have added up since their adoption only 60 years ago to create a worldwide environmental catastrophe. (Google plastic pollution for details.)
I support the plastic bag ban in Madison County. As we know, the introduction of plastic debris into the environment poses a threat to wildlife, ecosystems and human health. Plastic bags are highly visible and numerous and that makes them a particular threat when it comes to plastic pollution.
The numbers are telling. One household uses at least 500 plastic bags annually. In Madison County, we have 26,288 households (2010 census date) for a grand total of at least 13 million plastic bags every year to be removed from the environment.
This should be our top priority, not the profits of retail stores or freedom of choice. In fact, as the editor states in the editorial, we currently have the choice not to use plastic bags when we shop. Unfortunately, like smoking in public places and the use of seat belts, people don’t always make the best choice for their own and the community’s health and safety — that’s why these things are legislated. This has nothing to do with European-style socialism.
Yes, if recycling bins were more prominent in stores, we might increase the recycling rate, but not to the degree to really make a dent in the 13 million bags that are annually landfilled and littered in Madison County. Single-use plastic bags can be replaced — the health and safety of our wildlife, ecosystems and human health cannot.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.