Bag fee is small step in the right direction

As I read Dan Olson’s op-ed (Herald, Oct. 20), I found myself nodding in agreement to most of his common-sense points regarding the bag-fee ordinance. The bag-fee issue was raised by the constituents of the city councilors, Durango locals. In crafting the ordinance, the councilors responded to opponents’ concerns. Personally, I would much rather see a ban on all plastic bags at all retail outlets, but councilors were willing to compromise, allowing for exceptions for low-income families and exempting small businesses.

Like Olson, I am dismayed that a loud and disgruntled minority have decided to disregard the precious time, effort and thoughtful compromise put forth by city staff members and councilors to force this already-approved issue on the ballot.

A couple of facts that I feel need to be shared yet again, to illustrate why this bag fee is so important:

Without a doubt, the number of plastic bags used in our community would decrease (7.2 million estimated per year). How can this be nothing but positive, given that the production, use and disposal of these bags is not environmentally sustainable?

Durango is one of many communities already implementing similar ordinances. Although, I consider myself a proud tree-hugging environmentalist, bag ordinances are becoming more of a mainstream idea because it is common sense. When I lived in Italy more than 20 years ago, bringing bags to the grocery store was the norm. Many other countries have bag bans including the developed nations of Italy, Ireland and Japan, as well as underdeveloped nations such as India, Somalia and Uganda. If they can do it, so can we.

It is a fee, not a tax. You are not obligated to pay the fee if you bring a bag.

It is frustrating to hear “liberty above all else” proponents refer to a small step toward environmental sustainability as “punitive.” This is no reason not to pursue a step in the right direction. I applaud the city councilors for their forward-looking planning, and I would welcome their efforts toward eliminating plastic bottles and striving for zero waste.

Claire Ninde


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