Thursday, August 21, 2014

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The Good, The Bags, and Earth Day

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Rochester: The Good, The Bags, and Earth Day
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You see them just about everywhere, and on this Earth Day, the plastic shopping bag is getting some attention. And not in a good way.

"I don't think we think that eventually this stuff has to go someplace," said Frank Regan, Sierra Club. "And it does go someplace."

They dangle from trees, like ugly ornaments. Shuffle down streets, like plastic tumbleweeds.

"I think most people think they're a way of life."

Regan doesn't have to walk far to find the plastic bags that litter the landscape.

"We see them everywhere. We see them on our trails, in our neighborhoods. We see them forever in our trees."

Regan and other environmentalists are trying to convince people to lay off the plastic, which winds up buried in waterways – and affecting wildlife.

"We're just like, 'well, that's the way it is' and I think we have to start thinking, no, that isn't the way it is."

It starts, say experts, with education.

"It is Earth Day today and on Earth Day we go around and make a big mess of the earth, right?" asked a teacher.

"No!" exclaimed the kids at School 1, who picked up trash.

"Plastic bags in the trees, a lot of times we'll find beer cans," said teacher Kathy Clarke.

"I did see a coffee cup on my grass yesterday. Someone forgot to pick it up," said kindergartener Niema Njai.

Even at a young age, they get it.

"I get really mad and sad that people don't pick up their garbage," Niema said.

"I think it's real important, especially for our young kids to tell their parents they want them to pick up and clean up and not litter," Clarke said.

Plastic bags have become targets in some cities. Governments in Seattle and Los Angeles are among those to already have enacted bans on plastic shopping bags. Others have imposed fees for their use. Leaders in Rochester and Monroe County have so far resisted calls to ban plastic shopping bags.

Still, environmentalists keep pushing.

"I think with a lot of issues, there probably will be a ban," Regan said.

Regan says it doesn't have to be that way, if people just change their ways, and sack the sack.

"Hopefully, in a free society we can decide it's a bad thing, we ought to change our habits and listen to the people who are trying to tell us of the danger," said Regan. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP