‘Plastic bags are not even a contender’


To the Editor:

This is in response to the Letter to the Editor from Mark Daniels (“VCS bag ban is poor policy,” Feb. 25), chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, who was a one-week visitor to the Vineyard at various times.

It is obvious how you get paid; your objectivity is extremely slanted. Had you visited the Island more recently, you would see the overabundance of single-use plastic bag trash that is littering our roadways, woods, and shorelines. Even nonpetroleum bags become airborne litter. And while you think a better approach is changing the recycling practices on-Island to include all of this film trash, we who live here know that comment is a shortsighted, environmentally irresponsible thing to say, as it is not happening anytime soon. Recycling efforts nationwide are changing, as is consumer demand for being environmentally sustainable in a world that has been sickened by our own ignorance. It seems you would have us all living in a chemical-laden plastic world with plastic playgrounds, plastic decking, and the like, adding more plastic when we should be halting the unnecessary uses (like cheap bags) of this petroleum-based product you push. We who live here year-round are looking for sound environmental choices for our coastal home. And we know that as a coastal community, we must be far more environmentally responsible for our choices — especially when the health of the ocean is at our feet.

Ocean Conservancy lists single-use plastic bags as one of the most deadly types of ocean trash to birds and marine life. Those bags that are not washing ashore to be cleaned up are blowing out to sea and sinking deep into the water, looking like jellyfish, or being pulled out to the giant ocean garbage patches. But if you truly had concern for the environment, you would know and state this too. We know true cost includes any adverse environmental impact. We pay one way or another. I would rather we pay smart and caring, versus cheap and inconsiderate.

This proposed policy is about updating business and consumer practices. Environmental profit first. Plastic bags are not even a contender. There are two smart options, 100 percent recycled paper bags being the second choice. First: Reusable cotton canvas bags are more in line with environmental sustainability, and are the best option for all involved. I have safely used my cotton canvas shopping bags, bulk bags, and cotton mesh produce bags for well over 20 years of the 30 years I’ve lived year-round on-Island. I put store-wrapped packages of raw meats, loose produce, and shelf staples in them, and have rewashed the bags with no ill effects on my health or the planet’s well-being.

Please add the 135 single-use plastic shopping bags that I found littered on Menemsha Hills Beach one day, and the hundreds of others that I have seen or picked up from the roadways this past winter, to your list of reasons why it might be a good idea to update the business/consumer standard of our beloved Martha’s Vineyard. And bring your own bags the next time you visit. In the meantime, love MV like you mean it.

Constance Messmer