Letter: Cloth bags are better alternative to plastic

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am responding to the news article in the April 26 issue of the Mountain Xpress titled “Singled Out: Asheville Considers Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags.”

One way to get rid of all the plastic bags laying around loose all over Asheville is to put an X amount of cents per turned-in bag. They would be brought into a collection center, where a cashier would count the bags a kid, homeless person or anyone else wanted to drop off. Then the cashier would pay out a certain amount to them. All those bags would be sent to Virginia to make plastic boards out of them.

The Asheville City Council would have to budget a certain amount of money to pay for each bag and the salary of the cashier.

Soon, I bet there wouldn’t be a loose plastic bag to be found anywhere in Asheville.

When I was a kid back in the 1960s and ’70s, a person could pick up glass Coke bottles, turn them in to stores and get paid so much per bottle returned.

The United States operates on financial incentive.

But I also know that plastic bags are bad for the environment and people when plastic gets into drinking water.

I am a member of the Arbor Day Foundation. Paper bags would cause an increase in cutting down more trees. Can anyone imagine how many trees would have to be cut down to replace all the plastic ones? Too many!

The best way to replace plastic bags is by making cloth and canvas ones. Cotton is a renewable resource.

There could be many individuals with sewing machines who would sew together and make cloth bags and sell them to stores. A group of sewers could form a small business to supply cloth and canvas bags. Even big industrial sewing factories employing hundreds of sewing-machine operators would be able to create thousands of bags and sell them to grocery stores that use plastic bags now.

There was a sewing factory in Asheville that had to close its doors recently and lay off good sewing-machine operators. Its owners could reopen and hire back those employees and perhaps hire more sewers.

The stores could, at first, sell the cloth bags to shoppers for a nominal fee, then those customers would bring their bags each time they came to a store. I notice shoppers at grocery stores are already doing that.

The N.C. General Assembly could pass a law forbidding any store from purchasing more plastic bags after their present supply was used up. Then the law would say all stores would have to only use cloth and canvas bags. Not a bad idea, considering tiny plastic particles get into people’s blood and cause sicknesses.

Even though paper bags might be considered a good substitute, everyone probably would not bring them back to stores to be recycled. They would end up in the landfill, filling it sooner. Then new land would have to be found.

I say save the trees. When one is cut down, plant two seedlings in its place. It is a no from me on paper bags. Besides, they fall apart when they get wet.

Well, that is my opinion.

— Tom L. Nanney


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Cloth bags are better alternative to plastic

  1. NFB

    Cloth bags require periodic washing which has an impact on the environment. Maybe it isn’t as negative one as plastic, maybe someone knows of a study on that, but it is a factor that needs to be addressed before we ban plastic bags in favor of cloth ones.

  2. KH

    We will always debate what reusable method is more environmentally correct, and I sometimes think we get into the weeds on this topic. The point is to use reusable items instead of single-use whenever possible, even if it means we have to wash them occasionally. Reusable bags made out of a wide range of materials will last a long time. Having said that, we sometimes can also end up with a glut of reusable items. Just go look at a thrift store housewares section and you’ll see what I mean. Entire shelves of perfectly good reusable water bottles, for example, many of which will never be sold and will sadly be thrown away.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Costa Rica has these really cool bags sized similar to plastic grocery bags…these are some kind of processed fiber
    that can be used several times and I think it’s biodegradable…I brought one home 3 mo ago …says ‘No Mas Plastico de un Solo Uso which means single use but they are way better than our plastic bags…I need to show it to somebody who cares ….

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