I am delighted to read that Portland is trying to decrease the use of plastic and paper bags in our city’s food stores (“Portland panel recommends city council adopt 5-cent bag fee,” May 22).

As convenient as these bags may be for shoppers, they often are not properly disposed of, which leads to undesirable bag pollution in our neighborhoods, waterways and green areas.

The Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association, as quoted in the above-mentioned article, seems to believe that the proposed 5-cent bag fee is a tax. I submit that it is not.

Per dictionary.com, a tax is “a compulsory financial contribution imposed by a government to raise revenue, levied on the income or property of persons or organizations, on the production costs or sales prices of goods and services, etc.”

The proposed 5-cent fee is not compulsory; this is but one reason why it is not a tax. Any shopper can avoid paying the 5 cents by simply using reusable shopping bags. Thus the 5 cents is really an “optional fee.”

Similar logic applies to the idea that the 5 cents is a cost increase as, according to the article, others suggest.

Dictionary.com defines “cost” as “the price paid to acquire, produce, accomplish or maintain anything.”

Because the 5-cent fee will not be paid by everyone when purchasing food items, the 5 cents is obviously not a part of the price of the food being sold. Hence, it also is not a part of the cost.

It is my hope that the Portland City Council will vote “yes” on the 5-cent bag fee.

No shopper need ever pay that fee.

How much easier could it be to help keep Casco Bay and the rest of our Maine environment more pristine?

Helen Anderson