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Bravos for the bag ban

For the first time in a long time I'm proud of Baltimore City and the City Council, not for passing a proposed 5-cent tax on plastic grocery bags but for going all the way and banning them outright ("Baltimore City Council moves to ban plastic bags," Nov. 10).

Now let's hope this legislation will survive a mayoral veto and the wrath of small business.

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The argument that the bags are frequently reused for other purposes begs the question; they always end up sooner or later in landfills and waterways, where they do untold damage to wildlife and the environment — not to mention the visual blight of plastic bags stuck to shrubbery and lying along walkways. Baltimore has enough garbage on the streets without these unsightly bags adding to the problem.

Likewise, calling this move a tax on the poor is disingenuous: anybody can afford a few reusable bags, which can be reused for up to a year or more. Reusable bags also will obviate the need for vendors to pass on the fee for more expensive paper bags to the customer.

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Why can't Marylanders be like the French with their trusty "filets" — net bags that are used over and over again and that are a natural part of going grocery shopping? And why aren't retailers talking about providing reusable bags to customers at cost, instead of complaining about the price of paper?

The real problem is changing the habit of using a bag once and throwing it away, a remnant of the throw-away culture of 20th-century America. Old habits die hard, as will this one.

Our old habits have gotten us into a lot of trouble with planet Earth, and the sooner we change them the better. Bravo to the City Council for this forward-thinking move.

Betty Cherniak, Baltimore

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