Editor, Gettysburg Times,
Jenny Dumont recently wrote to the paper about Gettysburg Rising’s “Rise Above Plastic” initiative to eliminate single-use plastic bags in the borough. It seems that Gettysburg’s council decided against the proposal because it would be too difficult to enact. How sad. How is it possible that numerous towns and cities in the US as well as states such as California and Hawaii have banned single-use bags and yet the council thinks their small town cannot? One of the council’s reasons was that it would drive away business. As someone who went door to door and spoke with residents, one of the overriding themes was that most people already have and use reusable bags. The tourist is much more likely to grumble about the parking fee than a plastic bag fee and could probably be enticed to buy a reusable bag that has a Civil War theme to it. No one is not going to go to a business because a nominal fee for a bag is being charged. Kennie’s, which is a very locally engaged business, rewards customers five cents for each reusable bag a patron uses. Do not forget that bags are not free for stores. This is an expense for them. If Kennie’s could get everyone to start using reusable bags, they could cut down considerably on the thousands they have to buy and pass the savings on to the customers. It’s a win-win situation. Plus, the fees collected could go to various organizations to help them out, such as to the Gettysburg Garden Club for maintaining the square’s planting or to SCCAP or the Adams County Rescue Mission. To use a reusable bag or to skip a bag altogether is not a sacrifice. As added incentive, consider that a recent study concluded that the average American consumes more than 70,000 particles of microplastic a year. Some of these particles are tiny enough to infiltrate human tissues, where they could release toxic substances or trigger immune reactions. We hear about how microplastics affect marine life, but we should also be aware that microplastics are in the soil too from sewage sludge that is used as a supplement to fertilizers. Robert Frost said, “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.” I say in plastic, unless our quintessential town becomes a shining example and leads the way to ban single-use bags.