, Newburyport, MA

July 10, 2013

Do the math, then decide about plastic bag use

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

We generally have necessities and options — as in the case of the use of plastics. There is no doubt that using plastics to package our food keeps it fresh and clean. Until a better alternative can be found we will continue to do so — it’s a necessity.

However, what we use to take our food from the checkout counter to the car and house is an option. We can use a plastic or paper bag or a cloth bag. Cloth bags, which are cheap and strong, are reusable for quite a while. There’s talk of government actions such as banning plastic bags or charging for them. But we can voluntarily achieve the goal of reducing those plastic bags that cause environmental problems (ending up in the oceans and not degradable in garbage dumps). Even recycling plastic bags requires energy from fossil fuels.

I did some calculations on how many plastic bags are used in a year, employing some suppositions. For instance, if just 5,000 of the 18,000 Newburyport residents use, on average, four plastic bags a week, it means that each one uses 200 a year. That adds up to one million plastic bags a year just here in Newburyport. I think if they were aware of the unnecessary enormity of plastic bag usage, people would opt for cloth bags.

Alfred Moskowitz