Seeing plastic bags hung up in trees and littering the side of the road is depressing. To see them on stream and river banks is alarming. It won’t be long before they are carried by the wind into our waterways and swept into the ocean, where they cause death and destruction for countless marine animals and water fowl. We can prevent some of this needless suffering by voting yes on Waterville municipal Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Thanks to this citizen-led initiative, Waterville voters can ban plastic shopping bags in the 20 or 30 Waterville store that have an area of 10,000 square feet or greater. This is where the bulk of the plastic bags are coming from. The supermarkets, Walmart and Home Depot are good examples. This will not affect small businesses. Also, paper bags, which are biodegradable, will still be available.

Plastic is not biodegradable. Made from oil, plastic does not return to oil over time. It’s like when a cucumber is turned into a pickle; do what you may, you will never get it to be a cucumber again. This is how it is with plastic. Plastic, however, does break down into tiny particles, which marine life mistake as food. Of course they can’t digest it and it kills them.

This leads me to an important but not well-known fact about the recycling of plastic bags. Most plastic, including plastic bags, can only be recycled once. That’s right, just once. Although recycling is an important part of waste management and of course we should recycle, the recycling of plastic bags has a short-term benefit. Eventually it all becomes waste.

Please vote yes on Waterville Municipal Question 1 Nov. 6 at the Thomas College field house.

Marian Flaherty

Waterville

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