To the Editor:
I find the stories that expose the dangers of pollution in the Bennington Banner to be crucial in the fight for our environment on a local level. However, when it comes to the stories I see on plastic bags, I think it is also important to give more information on the necessity of a paper bag fee. Many towns and states have enforced paper bag fees in addition to the plastic bag ban so that consumers do not become reliant on paper as we have with plastic.
While paper may not be as harmful to the environment as plastic, paper bag production depletes vital natural resources at an alarming rate. Approximately 14 million trees are used each year, solely for the production of paper bags. Not only are forests being ransacked, but 51 percent more greenhouse gases are released, four times more raw materials are used, and two times the amount of energy is consumed during the paper bag production process compared to plastic bags.
Obviously plastic bags need to be replaced, but paper is not the answer. The paper bag fee that many communities have implemented in stores has worked well as a deterrent for buying paper bags. Studies have shown that people make the switch to reusable bags simply for economic reasons or for environmental concerns that the fee raises. Alameda County, California, has seen an 80 percent decrease in plastic and paper bags thanks to the ban on plastic and the fee on paper.
More people are switching to the sustainable practice of using reusable bags, which is a necessary step for combating the threat of global warming. If we all can make this simple change of habit, we will be able to greatly help towns like Bennington by reducing the amount of plastic pollution in our communities.