It’s obvious that some people think that Portland’s new 5-cent fee on plastic bags is a tax. As far as I’m concerned, a tax is some amount of money that we have to pay that goes in the government budget, but this fee isn’t necessarily mandatory. We can avoid it by using our own reusable bags.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable, and that means that when they reach the soil they stay almost forever. That soil that is being damaged is our land, and we need it for food.

So let’s not focus on the fee, but on the plastic bag in the soil and in the ocean, and think of how we could get rid of it.

The fee is not a threat, but a hint to remind us what is needed or not. When they are free, plastic bags are used by everybody, but the five cents will be paid by those who really need a plastic bag. As a result, the amount of litter will lessen in our neighborhood.

I will keep on shopping in Portland because I think the neighboring towns also should enact the same law. Let’s start bringing our own bags. Let’s not stop shopping in Portland because of the nickel that we can avoid by bringing our own bags. Instead, let’s be of a good mind and understand that it’s all about our safety.

By approving the 5-cent fee on plastic bags, and the ban on foam containers, the city councilors did a commendable job. In fact, I wish plastic bags could be banned completely.

Hugues Ingabire