Re: “Advocates launch campaign for disposable bag fees in Brunswick, Topsham” (Oct. 13)

We joined the Bring Your Own Bag Project in Brunswick and Topsham because we’re concerned about the well-being of marine wildlife.

Our oceans face a triple whammy: rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and plastics that are killing fish, seabirds and marine mammals. As individuals, we may feel helpless to make a difference, but, if we are willing to change our habits by switching from using plastic bags to reusable shopping bags, we can help.

In the U.S. alone, shoppers use an astounding 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year.

Only 12 percemt of these bags get recycled, and many of those clog recycling equipment. Plastics are not biodegradable and never go away.

Plastic bags end up in waterways and oceans, where they break down into microplastics that fish eat, mistaking them for fish eggs. Turtles and marine mammals mistake intact bags for jellyfish, choking on them and die. At least 267 species have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic debris in the ocean.

Studies suggest that 90 percent of seabirds now have plastic in them. When their guts become stuffed with bits of plastic, there is no room for food and birds starve to death. Plastics have contributed to a 30 percent decline in the albatross population.

Plastics harm wildlife because toxic chemicals leach out from them into the water and landfills. In addition, studies have found that plastic debris absorbs persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. Contaminated microplastics work their way up the food chain and are being found in shellfish and the larger fish we eat.

It is time to take action! Please support your local community and encourage councilors to adopt ordinances to limit the use of plastic bags. Show you care by using reusable shopping bags.

Diane Schetky, M.D.

David Wiggin


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