To the editor: Are you as sick of seeing plastic bags on roads and waterways in our community as we are? The debris of plastic shopping bags is discouraging.

This litter is one of the reasons Plastic Free QAC, a nonprofit organization, was formed in 2018. We decided to take action and we have collected powerful data to back up the goal of getting rid of plastic shopping bags.

First, in 2019, as a result of our road cleanups, our volunteers picked up close to 1,000 plastic bags, 637 of those alone by Claude Lowery’s farm across from Safeway in Chester! “We try to make our farm look neat and attractive,” Mr. Lowery said recently, but all those bags make it difficult.

He supports the effort to get rid of disposable plastic bags, as are more than 90 other retailers in Queen Anne’s County, surveyed last year. These retailers include not only farmers, but marinas, hotels, schools, shops and restaurants.

Second, we have audited the four grocery stores in QAC and counted every shopper leaving each of the stores for one hour on two occasions. Out of 1,271 shoppers, only 8% used reusable shopping bags. Virtually all of the single-use, disposable bags were plastic. For comparison, we surveyed the Aldi grocery store in Easton, where no plastic bags are available. People brought their own reusable bags (61.5%) or carried their groceries loose in their carts without any bags (32.7%). Only 5.8% used disposable bags. Only 5% of plastic bags are recycled.

Legislators are beginning to recognize the issue of single-use plastic. Already, seven states and 500 localities in the U.S. have enacted bag laws. Fortunately, a bill has recently been introduced in the Maryland state legislature to ban plastic shopping bags.

In addition to banning certain plastic bags, HB 209/SB 313 allows retailers to sell paper bags for 10 cents apiece if shoppers forget to bring their own reusable bags.

Plastic Free QAC is very excited about this proposed legislation and hopes it gets the needed support.

Bente Cooney

Founder

Plastic Free QAC

 

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