To the Editor:
I have been working to create a bylaw with the Vineyard Conservation Society that would prevent stores from distributing plastic checkout bags. Last week Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a lobbyist group that promotes plastic use, wrote a Letter to the Editor (“VCS bag ban is poor policy,” Feb. 25) about this bylaw. I’m writing this response because I care about the future. As a high school senior, I know the choices I make now will shape my own life as well as the world I live in. I also have a lot of questions. I am finding answers in the world around me.
I see humans and animals suffering from the effects of pollution and litter along roadsides and in the ocean. In the news, I see oil spills and reports of habitat loss and loss of biodiversity, reports of rising cancer rates and other illnesses caused by chemicals we’ve allowed into the environment, and the negative effects of hydrofracking on American people and the land itself. I see an opportunity to change things each time I go to the store. I can’t prevent oil from being extracted, or pick up every piece of litter. I do have power of choice. I get to decide which resources I consume, how much I use, and how I dispose of these things. I also have the power to shape our society’s relationship to the environment, through voting (which I will do for the first time this week) and creating policies for others to vote on, like the plastic bag bylaw.
Even small choices are important. When deciding which bag to use, I am deciding what my future will look like, and what my legacy will be. Plastic particles remain in our environment for thousands of years. I do not want my legacy to be the plastic particles I leave behind. I do not want to live in a world where the environment suffers because we ignore the reality of what we are doing. I urge you all to examine the world around you and the choices you make. What will your legacy be?