SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 29, 2013

Clinging to the plastic bag: Local shoppers weigh in

Should the commonwealth take away the plastic shopping bag? A sampling of North Shore residents reveals a general reaction to the idea — you can have my plastic bag when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Of course, no one was quite as emphatic as that, an echo of a sentiment oft heard from members of the National Rifle Association.

Most of the shoppers sampled were at least sympathetic to the goals of Marblehead state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, who wants a statewide ban of the bags to reduce the pollution they create.

Still, many objected to a new law to achieve those goals.

“I usually ask for paper bags,” said Marie Deschamps of Danvers. “People should know enough to get paper bags.”

But she did not hesitate when asked if the government should mandate that.

“I think there are too many laws now,” she said.

Advised of Ehrlich’s concern that the bags are not biodegradable and that they show up everywhere, clogging drains, washing onto beaches, wrapped around helpless animals and even contributing to massive plastic garbage dumps floating in the middle of the ocean — Deschamps paused.

“I’m like this,” she said, turning her hand to one side and then the other. “If people can’t do what they should do, then maybe we do need a law.”

But her preference for now is to see more voluntary recycling.

“I like reusable bags,” Alicia Hanson of Salem said.

She carries several in her car so she’ll have one when she needs to shop. She washes them regularly to avoid the buildup of bacteria.

For all her concerns about the environment, however, Hanson does not favor a ban.

“I don’t like any kind of force-fed politics over my everyday life,” she said.

William Ambrose of Middleton feels the same way.

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