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Too Much of a Good Thing

Should we give up plastic bags?

A convenience that has gotten out of hand, plastic bags remind me of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The Disney cartoon from Fantasia is one of my favorite feats of imagination. In search of ease, Mickey Mouse, the apprentice, puts a spell on his mop and bucket. But he hasn’t learned enough sorcery to limit the spell, and his labor-saving devices multiply beyond his power to control them.
    You and I both know how that feels. My ever-growing bag of plastic bags threatens to fill up the house. We reuse what we can, recycle the rest — but even so, some escape and the rest threaten to gum up the works.
    “Plastic bags are a pretty significant contributor to litter, in streams and waterways and as street and tree litter,” says Julie Lawson of Trash Free Maryland, the force behind the Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2016.
    The bills, introduced in both the Maryland House and Senate, ban plastic bags in many commercial exchanges and would levy a 10-cent charge on paper bags.
    “Grocery stores were involved in developing the bill,” Lawson says, “The fees help the businesses pay for the more expensive paper.”
    Part of the fee helps clean waterways, educate consumers and pay for reusable bags in low-income neighborhoods.
    Bag bills have gone before the General Assembly since 2009. To get it passed this year, Lawson says, “We’re focusing heavily on economic impact. This will keep money in the pockets of groceries and small retailers all over the state.”
    If you’re ready to stop the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, tell your legislators.
    “Give up plastic bags for Lent,” Lawson says. “It’s something we can all do, regardless of our religion. Lent is well-timed with the General Assembly. It starts February 10 and gives you 40 days to practice at making a difference.”