One morning last week I was taking my dog for a walk in the early hours and came upon my friend and fellow dog owner, Ed. Both of us stood exchanging morning greetings with hands full of trash. Ed had found an entire bundle of magazines, dumped in the park overnight. I had my usual trashy quarry -- a large plastic bottle and several bags which had blown across the soccer fields during the previous day. I was taking mine home to recycle. Ed was dragging his to the garbage can, since it was too heavy to carry while he walked with a leashed dog in hand.
Ed and I and many other dog owners who hit the park early in the morning often find our selves on trash patrol. Mostly, I hunt down the blowing plastic bags, hoping to pin them down and collect them before they end up out of reach in the high branches of our neighborhood's aging oaks and maples. When they get stuck up there they drive me crazy. They are noisy, crackling, bright blue or white flags reminding us all how polluted our environment has become. I hate them, and have made it a personal mission to pick them up and take them to my home trash can whenever and where ever I can. If they aren't too dirty I even try to recycle them.
Last year for Lent, I even gave up plastic bags altogether, figuring that I could train myself to remember to bring my cloth ones to the store if I REALLY tried. It worked. Now I have a wonderful collection of the canvas ones in each car, and even when I shop for clothes I eschew those dreaded plastic sacks and proudly carry my stuff home in a resuable tote.
For these and and many other reasons, I was excited to hear about a bill, introduced by Maryland Delegate Al Carr (District 18) that would place a five cent fee on plastic retail bags. According to a press release put out by Carr, the "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Consumer Retail Choice Act of 2009" will put a new focus on reducing the amount of trash that enters Maryland waterways and will raise money for Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund. Delegate Carr joins Washington DC Council Member Tommy Wells who will introduce similar legislation that would fund restoration of the Anacostia River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
The bill, now labeled as HB 1210, had its first hearing on March 11. I will be following the news regarding this bill with great hope. Not only might it raise money for the Bay, it could also help prompt more people to bring their own bags when they go shopping.
(Special thanks to Sarah Morse of the Little Falls Watershed Association for bringing this bill to my attention. Sarah asks all Marylanders reading to call their delegates and voice support for this bill. )