A recent column condemning members of the Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition who are trying to promote good stewardship through the banning of single-use plastic bags applies the libertarian logic, “I am an autonomous island and therefore my liberty and freedom outweigh all other considerations, keep your hands off my grocery cart” (“Proposed Waterville bag ban is ‘people control,'” Feb. 28). If we all thought like this, we all would have the right to run naked through the streets, which offends some, and dump our raw sewage on the street, which is both offensive and a public health risk — “Keep your hands off my toilet.”

But now plastic bags have become a public health risk around the world, filling up the ocean canyons and breaking into tiny particles swallowed by small fish, which are swallowed by the bigger fish, which we eat. Does one’s personal liberty outweigh the good of the world?

Last century most towns, not understanding the damage they were doing, dumped trash and sewage directly into rivers and oceans. Now because of greater understanding they have abandoned that practice and are better stewards of their trash. The industrialization of agriculture led farmers to apply larger amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, thinking the soil was a big sponge and it all magically dissipated. Remember DDT? Was liberty more important? With greater understanding farmers have become better stewards of the land.

I recently drove under a banner in Ipswich, Massachusestts, which proudly proclaimed that the town is now bagless, and there 60 more towns in that state with bag restrictions. Many towns nationwide have gone bagless, and Waterville should seriously consider following their lead. Is convenience so much more important than a livable planet? Should we not strive to be better stewards of our trash, plastic, and our world? We are a big family, not little islands.

Brad Sherwood


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: