No, disposable shopping bags are not free

Disposable shopping bags are not free. We all pay for them when we shop, like we pay for everything else we throw away, which adds up nationwide to $4 billion. This does not include massive environmental costs or plugged sewers and equipment, which happens regularly in Durango.

Let’s think about these facts. Locally, in Durango each year, we use more than 7 million disposable plastic bags, most of which end up in the dump where they do not degrade. Nationally, 90 percent of what we manufacture in the United States ends up in the garbage within six months.

That includes more than 7 billion pounds of PVC of which less than 1 percent is being recycled. Internationally, our No. 1 export item to China in 2010 was $8 billion worth of scrap and trash. While we export trash, China imports $50 billion worth of computer equipment.

Make no mistake: We all pay for the stuff that ends up as waste. Per capita, we throw away more than twice the municipal garbage when compared to other developed nations, and we all pay for it.

As long as there is profit in waste, U.S. businesses will not change their ways. Yet, we, in Durango, care for our environment, and that’s why the local disposable-bag ordinance matters. That’s also why we elected our progressive City Council. Support our environment, support what Durango stands for and vote “yes” for the bag ordinance!

Werner Heiber

Durango

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