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8/13/2019
Why are we still using plastic bags?

EDITOR, Daily News:

I recently traveled to Kodiak to visit friends. While in the grocery store, I noticed that paper bags were opened and ready for groceries but no plastic bags were in sight. I asked the clerk if they used plastic bags. “No!” she said empathetically, “We voted them out because we love our ocean.” When I told her I lived in Ketchikan where plastic bags were still used, she shook her head sympathetically.

A few days later, friends and I boarded the AMHS ferry Tustamena, headed for small towns along the Alaska Peninsula, ending in Dutch Harbor. It was a glorious trip with good weather and spectacular scenery. Dutch is a busy town, with enormous processing facilities and a large grocery store. As we walked into the grocery store, paper bags were open and ready. Again I asked, “Do you use plastic bags?” and the checker shook her head and said “No! We love our ocean!”, the same response as in Kodiak.

Sitka has banned single use plastic bags, and I wondered why Ketchikan lags behind other communities on this issue. I established the habit in the early '90s and I have used my own bags since. One local store rewards customers who bring their own bags with a $25 credit in lottery each month. I've won three times, earning $75, a more than generous return for my efforts. Another store credits a nickel if you bring in your own bag.

Remembering to bring your own bag might sound like a monumental task, but my 94-year-old mother had taken her own bags into grocery stores for the past eight years. It's not difficult to establish the habit. I recommend that Ketchikan be the next community to ban single-use bags.

Or maybe we just don't care about our ocean?

VICTORIA McDONALD

Ketchikan