Reader's View: Virus doesn’t end need to reduce plastics

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In light of the News Tribune’s recent assaults on the city’s ordinance to discourage single-use plastic bags by charging a nickel per bag (including the March 23 “Our View” editorial, “ Duluth council can bag the bag fee ”), I have questions:

Research shows that steel and plastic are the materials that can hold the coronavirus for the greatest length of time, with two to three days a conservative estimate. So why encourage the increased use of plastic? If using new bags for each purchase is indeed the best for public health at this time, why not encourage paper bags — and help our local responsible forestry industry at the same time?

The study cited in a March 25 commentary (National View: “ Coronavirus claims another victim: reusable shopping bags ”) noted that reusable bags sprayed with a virus can carry and spread that virus to items touched by customers. That should not be a surprise. But what about other reused items people carry into stores, like purses, wallets, gloves, and, of course, cellphones, a known carrier of pathogens of all kinds? Are we to ban those also?

At a time when people are looking for small ways in which they can help to lessen the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, why belittle the small ways in which people can respond to another public health crisis, the ever-decreasing quantity of unpolluted fresh water available on our planet? Or, locally, to the presence of plastic microparticles in our water and everything made locally with that water? Though not a complete solution by any means, cutting back on single-use plastic is something that each of us can do — and that our city has supported via this ordinance.

The coronavirus has made these critical times for our health — but not times to forget the need to care for our water, air, and land if we wish to remain healthy over the long run.


Beth Tamminen


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