more plastic bags

Plastic shopping bags are everywhere in our society. They are made from oil, never degrade, pollute our environment, and are expensive for businesses to give away for free.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses 150 per year. There are about 16,000 residents of Waterville. That means 2.4 million plastic bags are used in Waterville alone every year. A plastic bag is about a foot across. If you put the 2.4 million plastic bags Waterville uses each year end to end, it would stretch over 8,000 football fields. This needs to change.

Let’s assume that half of these bags come from one of the Hannafords in Waterville. According to the Hannaford in the Elm Plaza, they pay $32 for a box of 2,000 plastic bags, or 1.6 cents per bag. So that means each Hannaford store in Waterville is paying approximately $19,200 every year to hand out free plastic shopping bags. That is nearly $40,000 every year spent by Hannaford in Waterville alone. This needs to change.

That’s why the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is working on drafting and proposing an ordinance to the Waterville City Council that would do the following:

1. Prohibit the use of plastic shopping bags only at businesses in Waterville where food sales make up 2 percent or more of their total sales — such as grocery stores.

2. Paper bags would still be available free of charge at check out. This will support the forest products industry rather than the oil industry.

3. Encourage folks to bring their own reusable shopping bags from home to the store with them.

A dozen Maine towns have already banned or placed a small fee on plastic shopping bags to discourage their use. Waterville should be next. For more information, go to www.bringyourownbag.info.

Todd Martin

Waterville