Thank you for the excellent editorial in last week’s newspaper (“State Legislature should let local leaders lead”), opposing House Bill 2625 to keep local governments from imposing restrictions on the use of plastic bags.
Increasingly, current public opinion nationwide is that what is “good for business” is to do whatever that business can do to ameliorate the destruction of our planet.
The public knows the reality of the overuse of single-use plastics — plastic bags, plastic straws, disposable plastic water and juice bottles, etc. All you have to do is take a walk in a public area and look in the streets or along the sidewalk berms or fence rows to see the ugliness and environmental harm such items cause.
The public knows of the islands of floating plastic waste in the oceans and have seen the horrific images of aquatic creatures drowned, suffocated or disabled by ingesting or getting tangled in this effluence.
Closer to home, the public knows of plastic trash clogging storm drains and causing water to back up in the streets and into yards and basements. Most plastics are not recyclable and no one even pretends that plastic bags are recyclable.
The Republicans in the Statehouse — supposedly the party of “get Big Government out of the lives of the average citizen” — should be actively working toward supporting a STATEWIDE ban on the use of single use plastics, but at a minimum encouraging and empowering local communities to take action to get plastics out of our lives as much as possible.
Charging a small fee if a person wants to use a single-use plastic bag at a store is not a “tax” on the consumer but more of a “convenience fee” that all online ticket buyers, for instance, are used to paying. It can also be a money-maker for the business and maybe could be designated to go to a fund to help in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.
Great Britain has, for years, been charging fees to customers who want to have their purchases put in a plastic bag — the fee amounts to about 6 cents a bag. This has resulted in a reduction of 90% in the use of plastic bags just in the past four years! This program has been so successful that a total ban on these pollutants has been approved for the whole of England, starting in April 2020.
I applaud grocery chain Dillons for pledging to phase out plastic bags by 2025 — even sooner would be better, given that the sturdy cloth reusable shopping bags they, and other retailers, make available for about $1 a piece work so much better for hauling groceries anyway.
Anything anyone can do to live more sustainably and help to heal our planet should be encouraged as much as possible.
Sara J. Keckeisen, of Topeka, recently retired after 28 years as a librarian with the Kansas State Historical Society.