I am extremely happy Maine’s Legislature voted to keep Maine’s ban on plastic shopping bags. Every time I visit the beach, I find plastic waste cluttering the shore and I’m hoping this ban will reduce that so we can finally walk along the water without constantly picking up plastic bags that were only used once but will live forever.

While many believe Maine does not have much litter, litter is not the whole problem. Yes, plastic bag bans help keep plastic out of trees, streets, rivers, oceans and wildlife, but plastic poses dangers throughout its entire lifecycle. Plastic is made by extracting oil from the ground, which pollutes nearby communities and releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

Banning plastic bags creates less demand and addresses the problem further upstream. At the end of its lifecycle, plastic is landfilled, incinerated, littered or recycled. Many recyclers won’t accept plastic bags because they jam sorting machines and there is not a big market for them. Therefore, when plastic doesn’t become litter, the majority of it is incinerated or landfilled, even if it was sent to a recycling facility.

Incineration and landfilling both are problematic because they release harmful toxins and break into microplastics that get into our air, food and water. Plastic was even recently found in a human placenta. As a teenager, this issue is very important to me because it is my generation’s future we are shaping.

The ban will take place in July, so I encourage everyone to get in the habit of bringing reusable bags now!

Maya Faulstich

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