, Salem, MA

Local News

April 29, 2013

Clinging to the plastic bag: Local shoppers weigh in


“What are they going to ban next?” he asked. “We’re in America. ... Ever try carrying groceries in a paper bag?”

Giving advocates credit for good intentions — “I know they want to save the planet and everything” — Ambrose suggested a return policy for the bags with cash for bait and recycling the goal. “Just like the bottles.”

“I like plastic bags,” declared Larry Minehan of Peabody, out for an ice cream at Treadwell’s with his granddaughter. “I use them for other things, too. ... They do take forever to biodegrade.” He nodded. “If they got more biodegradable bags, that would be good.”

A boater, Minehan conceded that he sees the bags floating at sea. “But I also see Styrofoam cups and clear plastics.”

“I just like the convenience,” John Moore of Peabody said. “And I use them for everything.”

Echoing several others, Moore could tick off a variety of “reuses” for the bags once brought home from the market, everything from lining wastebaskets to containing recyclables.

He might approve of a ban, Moore added, “if they could come up with a better alternative — an improved paper bag.”

For many, it’s difficult to imagine that alternative, however, as the plastic bags have handles and can be carried more easily. A few markets offer sturdy paper bags with handles, but the big chains tend toward flimsier ones and no handles.

“I don’t know how I feel about it,” Idelle Marglous of Salem said. “I think they (plastic bags) serve a purpose for an elderly person who needs to get in the car and she’s the one carrying the bag.”

The concern from environmentalists and people like Ehrlich is the long-term impact of millions of plastic bags that aren’t easily recycled and are blowing out into the world in all directions. But Marglous is also concerned about the future and thinks the idea of forbidding the bags comes without consideration for the impact on those who’ve become accustomed to using them.

“Sometimes,” Marglous concluded, “I don’t think we really think things through.”

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