, Newburyport, MA

April 7, 2014

Save the environment; recycle plastic bags

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

I’m a junior at NHS who believes that a ban on plastic bags is important and worthy of everyone’s time and consideration. After watching many documentaries and learning a lot of horrific facts, I would like to share an analogy that helps me consider this issue. Compare the use of plastic bags to smoking a cigarette. Both the cigarette and plastic bag were created by humans, and both were thought to be benign inventions. However, as time passed we used research, data and scientific proof to show that our initial assumptions were wrong. We learned that the cigarette is, in fact, very harmful because it causes cancers, respiratory disease and countless other health problems.

Though plastic bags may not be harmful to human bodies directly or immediately, each year they harm thousands of wild animals and the very earth that many fail to realize we cannot live without. There is, however, one important flaw in this analogy: by choosing to smoke cigarettes despite the warnings, you’re only hurting yourself and those immediately surrounding you, but if you choose to use plastic bags despite the environmental impact, you are not only putting your own future in jeopardy, but also mine, my family’s and everyone else’s.

In a previous letter Jim Bailey states, “I recycle every plastic bag I receive, and I think the vast majority of people are responsible too. Do not punish all of us for the acts of a very few.” While it is admirable that Mr. Bailey recycles all of his bags, the fact is that only about 3 percent of the plastic bags produced and distributed throughout the U.S. are recycled. Once a plastic bag is made, it can take about 1,000 years to decompose, no matter how many times the bag is re-used. Plastic bags that are being produced, used for an average of seven minutes, and thrown away irresponsibly have, and will continue to accumulate and be around for all of our future generations.

By not passing this ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags, Newburyport is promoting selfish and lazy attitudes; instead, I believe we should unite together to put our environment before the superficial conveniences of individuals. I am not asking the citizens of Newburyport to dedicate their entire life’s work to the environment, but I do think it is important for all of us to do what we can to make our shared earth more clean, beautiful and safe for all of its earthlings, and if banning plastic bags is a step in that direction, then I don’t believe it’s that unreasonable to ask for.

Thank you, and remember, reduce, reuse and then recycle. It has an order for a reason!

Leah Petty