Editorial: Keep the ban 

Two years ago, Maine became the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags. At the time, conservationists and environmentalists lauded the move and many believed the old adage, ‘As Maine goes’ would prove that it was just the beginning of similar moves around the country.  

Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. 

The bag ban, which was supposed to go into effect Jan. 15, has been pushed back until July. Now, some legislators in Augusta are looking to repeal the legislation outright.  

The primary argument of a would-be repeal centers around health and safety citing a debunked early-pandemic theory that reusable bags had the potential to harbor virus particles. 

Today, we know this is not true, so why would educated public officials continue to push a baseless theory? 

The answer likely lies in the second argument, which state Senator Stacey Guerin (R-Penobscotsays is about government control. Apparently, the senator believes that replacing a known pollutant with environmentally sound alternatives infringes on your rights. 

After all, paper bags are another option.  

We would like to remind Sen. Guerin about another battle for acceptance that sounds awfully familiar: seat belt legislation.  

Seat belts began to appear in vehicles in the 60s but didn’t catch on right away. In 1984, New York was the first state to mandate seat belt wearing, which sparked a larger debate about whether the mandate was an infringement of individual rights.  

Most people eventually got on board and last year the National Health and Safety Administration found that more than 90 percent of the U.S. population regularly wore a seat belt.  

Change is hard, but the data is clear.  

Americans use 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year, employing them for an average of 12 minutes each. The average shopper can accumulate 1,500 plastic bags over the course of a year and only 1 percent of such bags are returned for recycling. 

Given that the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Maine Retailers Association and the Maine Food Producers and Growers Association are on the side a bag ban, it is time to move ahead and do what is right for the environment.  

As the country continues to face catastrophic weather event after catastrophic weather event, we need to take all the steps we can to curb climate change. Cutting back on the manufacturing of plastics will not only reduce carbon emissions but will also keep our oceans free of harmful debris.  

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