As one of the proponents of the restrictions on throwaway plastic bags in Brookline, I was disappointed that the article “The bag wars” (Ideas, Nov. 25) downplayed or omitted some of the strongest reasons for banning these checkout bags at retailers. Unlike many other products made of nonrenewable fossil fuels, plastic throwaway bags are easily replaced. There is a ready substitute: reusable bags made of cloth or canvas.
More important, unlike natural products that biodegrade, we never get rid of the polyethylene in bags. The bags float in the ocean, as the article noted, and they have accumulated in a big mass in the Pacific. In addition, the bags break down into invisible pieces the size of water molecules and cannot be filtered out of our water.
These small particles are eaten by animals, entering our food chain. Eventually the small pieces of plastic are in the food and water, often having picked up toxins along the way. This is a much more troublesome problem than merely the fact that they accumulate as unsightly litter.
Plastic throwaway bags are a serious threat to the health of living things. The fact they are replaceable with other alternatives makes banning them even more of a no-brainer.
The writer is a member of Brookline Town Meeting.