When it comes to less plastic waste, it’s in the bag

When it comes to less plastic waste, it’s in the bag

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Consumers are being encouraged to bring reusable bags to the grocery store instead of plastic bags by one Suffolk County legislator. Stock photo

Plastic bags have replaced tumbleweeds as the de-facto street debris blowing across town, but the two have very different affects on our environment.

Environmental groups from all over the country talk about the consequences of plastic bags polluting our waterways and killing our marine life. Marine animals choke on these bags and try ingesting them, which often leads to death.

One North Shore legislator is working on reducing the amount of plastic bags we use by imposing a 5 cent tax on every bag. County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) first tried to introduce an outright ban on plastic bags in stores earlier this year, but has since amended the bill to put a tax on the bags instead.

We support Spencer’s resolution to tax the bags, and think the Legislature should act quickly to put it in place.

Organic and green labels have become trendier over the past few years, but not where it actually counts. A measure like this could impact the environment that we so often take for granted.

We’re always careful when it comes to trusting government to make personal decisions for its citizens — in this case, which bags to use while shopping — but we have also been historically supportive of governmental measures that aim to conserve, improve or save the environment. This is a case where we believe the government should get more involved in our lives and regulate what materials we are using because of the tremendous impact it could have on our environment and the animals that inhabit it.

Other places, including Washington D.C., have already reported a significant reduction in the use of plastic bags through new tax laws. We think Suffolk County should join in on this success for the environment’s sake.

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