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Get the facts right on Howard plastic bag fee

This letter is in response to "Opposition mounts to calls for a plastic bag fee in Howard County" (Dec 5). As co-founder of Less Plastic Please, I also found incorrect statements in the article. Yes, 20 people testified in favor of the bill, but at least 30 people stood up to declare their support for the bill. The article mentioned an online poll opposing the bill obtained 49 signatures, in a three-week time frame. However, Less Plastic Please has received over 600 signatures on our paper petition in support of the bill. We decided to create an online petition, and it received 83 signatures in three days.

But let's refocus.

If this was a natural disaster, a sense of solidarity would surround us, we would be reminded we are all in this together. This is a disaster, a man-made one. We should all aim our attention on ways to reduce single-use plastic to help divert this crisis.

If driving down any road, any day, seeing plastic trash tangled in trees or clogging our storm drains does not give you pause, or if the 100,000 marine life suffocating from plastic each year doesn't pull at your heartstrings, or the fact that we are eating, breathing and drinking plastic doesn't make your skin crawl, or the ridiculous fact that it takes 12 million barrels of oil, a non-renewable fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, to produce the plastic bags that the U.S. uses each year doesn't make your head explode, then maybe money talks. Maybe these sobering financial statistics will drive home the point we are in trouble: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags which cost retailers about $4 billion annually. When it comes to the cost of using plastic bags, facts don’t lie. Public agencies in California alone spend more than $300 million on cleaning up coastal litter every year. If every person in New York City used one less grocery bag, it would cut waste by 5 million pounds and save $250,000 in disposal costs.

Please let's remember this is a disaster. Let's pull together, be kind, support one another and unite to stay focus at what is at risk. This isn't about a 5-cent fee, it is about a livable planet which is priceless.

Pat Hersey

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