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People accept plastic bags without a thought. You’d accept one to carry a box of cough syrup out of Walgreens, right? Why not? They’re free. Not.

They cost at both ends. They cost petroleum in the making–enough to drive a car a mile for every fourteen bags you make.

And they cost cities when it comes time to dispose of them–up to 17 cents a bag–wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. Of course, they don’t all get disposed of properly. Some areas of the ocean have as much as six pounds of plastic bags for every one pound of fish.

But cloth bags are such a nuisance. I’ll just go with paper instead, you may think. Bad idea. Paper bags are no better. They take just as long to biodegrade in landfills and take up more space while they’re doing it. It takes 70 percent more greenhouse gases to make a paper bag and creates 50 times more water pollution.

So, be a good doobie and get some cloth bags. If you use one twice a week for a couple of years, you’ll save 832 plastic bags. That’s enough petroleum to drive a car sixty miles.

Jeanne Kirkton tells me that she and Jeanette Mott Oxford have discussed the plastic bag problem, and if Jeanne’s elected to the state rep seat in the 91st, she and Jeanette may well sponsor legislation to limit their use. I don’t foresee them trying to ban all plastic bags: people might still be using them to get their grapes home. But if so, they’ll be encouraged to recycle.