On Tuesday, June 12, Manchester voters will have an opportunity to cast a ballot in favor of the environment. Question 1 on the Manchester ballot would encourage consumers to use recyclable shopping bags by prohibiting retailers from offering single-use plastic bags.

Unfortunately, single-use plastic bags are ubiquitous in our environment. We see them on the sides of our roads, in our streams and ponds, and fluttering from trees and bushes.

Plastic bags are more than just an eyesore. Plastic bags slowly break down into smaller particles, which then enter the food chain. Plastic is toxic to wildlife, and the decomposition releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Plastic bags clog our storm drains, and gum up recycling equipment.

Manchester’s proposed ordinance is modeled on similar ordinances already adopted by a number of Maine communities. It is a reasonable approach to encourage consumer behavior change, and to reduce unnecessary trash in our environment. It affects only point-of-sale retail use of single-use plastic bags. It does not directly affect homeowners or individuals. Paper bags would still be allowed, and exceptions are made for merchandise requiring special handling.

The proposed ordinance is available from the Manchester town website at manchester.govoffice2.com. The Manchester Conservation Commission carefully crafted the draft ordnance, and selectmen have placed it on the June 12 ballot. Two public meetings were held, and business input was specifically requested.

On June 12, I urge Manchester voters to support Question 1 to “Ban the Bag.”

Garry Hinkley

Manchester