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Ban plastic bags for better future

October 23, 2018

Where do you think you’ll be in five years? How about 10 years? Twenty? 100? We all know in 100 years we’ll be decomposing somewhere in the earth — but the same can’t be said for plastic. It can take anywhere from 20 years to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose. Every year, 1 trillion plastic bags wreak havoc on the environment. In Waterville alone, we use 4.8 million plastic bags per year, the majority of which will find their way to a landfill and never leave. To stop this, we should enact a ban on plastic bags in big-box stores.The ban will only affect 20 to 30 of the biggest stores in town.

For me, a high school sophomore at Waterville High School, keeping the planet clean and reducing my carbon footprint is essential for all people and wildlife. Contrary to popular belief, plastic does indeed affect human health. Some toxins in plastic are directly linked to cancers and immune system problems. Wildlife is also severely affected by plastic, whether it be by ingesting it or if they get caught in it. If a person were to consume a fish that digested plastic, that person would have vicariously consumed plastic, exposing them to plastic toxins. Not to mention that plastic also litters the beautiful Maine scenery.

So please, this November do something I cannot legally do, and vote yes on Waterville municipal Question 1 for the ban on plastic bags.

Sarah McNeil



Bag ban will help environment

October 23, 2018

I’m going to vote yes on Question 1 to ban single-use plastic shopping bags in Waterville because I care about the environment and I’m trying to do what I can to make the world a better place for our kids — now and in the future.

What’s the big deal? Who really needs the plastic bags anyway? A sturdy, reusable shopping bag is the way to go and they last a very long time. These bags are frequently given away by organizations and you can buy them at grocery stores. Keep a few in your car — that way you’ll always have them on hand.

Just to be clear, we are only talking about the plastic bags with the handles. Clear produce bags will still be available in the produce section, as will paper bags at the checkout.

Ten cities in Maine have already banned the bags, and I’m hoping Waterville will join the list.

Lea Girardin


Use cloth bags to help global problem

October 22, 2018

How to bag your groceries, cloth or plastic, that is the question. Having recently returned from Europe, I am even more convinced that cloth is the sensible way to go.

Why do we need to transport our groceries in plastic? I was recently shopping in Portland and the movement is in full swing — bring your bags or carry out by hand. Not only should we, as consumers, change our reckless plastic-using habits, industry itself should make an effort to return to sensible packaging.

From the World Count in 2017: “To date, there have been 275 billion plastic bags produced worldwide in just 2017 alone. Every second, a massive amount of 160,000 plastic bags are being produced and used. By the end of this year we will have used 5 billion plastic bags.”

And from Earth Day 2018: “About 8 million metric tons of plastic or annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are microplastics — tiny pieces of broken down plastic smaller than your little fingernail.” Frightening facts considering we go through our lives removing plastic wrapping from purchases on a daily basis.

While visiting Munich I had the opportunity to visit a store called Manufactum, where their motto is “Better Living WIthout Plastic.” The products, from clothing to light fixtures, are all a part of the past when we purchased items that were built to last. The focus is on leather, glass, metal and cloth. It was refreshing to know that the companies contributing to the store are all committed to making a major change in production and distribution.

This is truly a global problem. Waterville residents should take a hard look at what is in their trash, and hopefully make one little change by making use of those extra cloth bags hanging around the home.

Laura Richter


Don’t let bags litter the roadside
 October 9, 2018

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


Many good reasons to ban plastic bags
October 9, 2018

Members of the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition have worked for over a year to get a question on the Nov. 6 ballot to ban plastic bags at big-box stores in Waterville. A yes vote on Waterville’s Question 1 will create a ban on all plastic bags at stores 10,000 square feet and larger. Stores like Hannaford, Shaw’s and Walmart will be affected; smaller stores will not. Customers are welcome to bring any type of bag with them to the store — reusable, paper or even plastic.

Since ecomaine no longer accepts plastic bags in our recycling bins, many are tossed on roadsides and find their way to the ocean. Most plastic bags go into trash cans and, therefore, to the landfill in Norridgewock, where they will take 1,000 years or more to degrade.

If the ordinance passes on the ballot on Nov. 6, it won’t take effect until Earth Day 2019. That is a nearly six-month window for folks to adjust to bringing their own bags to the store. Paper bags will still be available at checkout at those big-box stores.

To learn more about the problem of plastic, I invite you to attend a screening of the documentary film Bag It for free on Monday, Oct. 22, at Beth Israel Synagogue, or Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Muskie Center. Both showings are at 6 p.m. It will also be shown for free on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10 a.m., at Railroad Square Cinema. The film highlights the many environmental problems plastic bags cause and how countries around the word are banning them.

Ten Maine towns have banned plastic bags all together. Five towns charge 5 cents. Please vote yes on Waterville’s municipal Question 1 to ban the bag at big-box stores in Waterville.

Linda Woods



Ban plastic bags to protect food supply
October 9, 2018

The Public Policy Team of Sustain Mid Maine Coalition supports Waterville’s Question 1, banning free plastic bags at big stores like Hannaford and Walmart. Customers would still get free paper bags.

At a recent City Council meeting, people said that not getting free, single-use plastic bags was an important loss of freedom. This is their argument: If the city takes away one small freedom, eventually Waterville will take away much more important things, like our cars and trucks. There is a big difference between free, single-use plastic bags and the cars we buy for thousands of dollars and use for decades. We all understand this difference, so we don’t need to worry about slippery slopes here. Believe me, the people of Waterville would not let the city ban a truly important freedom.

Why ban single-use plastic bags? Ecomaine no longer accepts plastic bags in Waterville’s recycling bins because they gum up the conveyer belts, so we cannot throw them away for free. Waterville residents use about 4.8 million of these plastic grocery bags per year. Most go to the landfill, but many end up as litter and degrade soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits.

During runoff in the spring, these bags are carried down rivers to the ocean, where the real damage occurs. Plastic bags in our oceans release dioxin and other toxins that pollute our food chain. Our grandchildren are going to need food from the ocean.

We do not have to choose between freedom and having an ocean that produces food, because getting free plastic bags is not a vital freedom. It is a minor convenience. Let’s focus on protecting the freedoms that really matter to us, and let’s protect our children’s food supply.

Richard Thomas

Member, Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition Public Policy Team


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