Short use as bag, long life as waste

To the editor,
Two years ago, a group of concerned residents asked City Council to look into ways to reduce single use plastic bags. My husband, Erich Bussian, and I were part of that group. Since then we, in Durango alone, have used another 15 million (yes, 15 million!) bags. Some of us voluntarily started bringing our own reusable bags, but clearly, we need more effective measures to stop our wasteful behavior.  Unfortunately, our wonderful single-use recycling program does not accept these bags, so they will end up in our landfills, trees, rivers and oceans.

City Council thoroughly studied the issue and voted (4-1) for an ordinance to put a 10 cent fee on the use of disposable checkout plastic and paper bags in the big grocery stores. Personally, I would have preferred a “ban,” but I think City Council came up with a reasonable compromise and listened well to different voices in our community. Sometimes it takes an ordinance to change people’s habits.

I think one of these “sometimes” is now. Like many ordinances or laws around smoking in restaurants, drinking age, seat belts, it will protect us from harm we do to ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our environment.

Some people think this ordinance will take away our freedom. I don’t think so. This ordinance gives everybody the freedom to use a plastic bag, or 20, or none. Just pay for them if you value them and need them. I certainly don’t want to pay for anyone else’s bags and the harm they do after their short use as a bag, and their long life as waste!

For me, freedom is about bigger issues, like the freedom to marry the person you love, the freedom to vote for the candidate you believe will represent your values and beliefs, the freedom to disagree.

Opponents of this ordinance like to say: “What about all the other plastic disposables we use?” I say: “YES, what about them?” This is not the end, just one step in the right direction.

Durango, let’s get this done. You can show your support to our progressive City Council members, by 4

voting for keeping the disposable bag ordinance in the upcoming ballot.

– Mip van Suchtelen, Durango

Show ‘aloha’ for the environment

To the editor,
I am somewhat of a newcomer to Durango, having moved here about two years ago. I had been living in Hawaii for 14 years and for various reasons I ended up here. What I immediately found were not the differences between the two places, but the similarities: like-minded, active and fit people who were proud of their communities, who live here because it’s a perfect place to raise a family, who have great respect and love for the area’s natural beauty, and who commune with nature and enjoy year round outdoor activities.

This year the State of Hawaii, yes the entire state, has banned plastic bags in all retail stores. The County of Hawaii website cites the obvious reasons for the ordinance: that plastic bags can choke wildlife; litter the environment; and contribute to the landfills. It cites that a good-quality reusable bag has the potential to replace more than 600 single-use plastic bags. Although available, paper bags are not a good alternative. It takes 14 million trees each year in the United States to produce a year’s supply of paper bags for retail use. Reusable bags reduce litter and conserve natural resources making them the best choice. And it reminds the people of Hawaii to “Shop with Aloha and bring your reusable bag!”

Please join me in showing that same Aloha for the environment here in Durango. For more information, visit and be sure to vote for the city’s Disposable Bag Ordinance on Nov 5!

– Dana Wilson, Durango

Vote out politicians after 2 terms

To the editor,
It is not only the Republicans but all the House and Senate politicians. So how do “We the People” get their attention? They will never agree to term limits as they are the ones who vote on it. Why do we continue to allow them to be in office? They obviously do not work for us anymore. They are called by the technical term “public servants,” which seems to be farthest from the truth. By definition, a public servant is one who is elected or appointed to serve “We the People.”

The recent decisions that our public servants have made do not seem to be in our best interests. It appears to me that for far too long it has all been about getting re-elected. If the politicians knew that they only had two terms to serve, it might have a more positive effect than the current situation of lifelong employment at our expense even if they do not perform their obligations or duties.

How many of “We the People” would be able to keep our jobs if we refused to do what we were hired to do? What I propose is that we simply vote out any and all politicians who have been in office for more than two terms regardless of party affiliation. I know that there are some “good” people in office, however, I feel that we must get their attention at some point.

When you think about how long we have had put up with the status quo, we have no one to blame but ourselves. The politicians are counting on us not to do anything. Let’s show them that the pendulum has swung as far as it can go! It’s just a thought, but what if?

– Brian Blanchard, Durango

Pass bag fee for future generations

Dear editor,
I am a New England-born, 21-year-old student at Fort Lewis College. I am writing to ask for voters’ support of the bag ordinance, an issue that has great meaning to me and my generation. Many others around the country have passed similar ordinances in an effort to reduce our use of disposable goods.  Now, here in Durango, we have the opportunity in November to make a positive impact on my generation, and all that succeed it. Younger generations are the ones that will have to deal with our wasteful ways.

There was a time, built by our forefathers, that proclaimed all production as good. All growth and development was something positive. Anything bigger was better, and waste was never a concern.  While this train of thought may be good for the economy, we do live on a planet of finite resources and finite space. This exponential growth of extraction and production is not sustainable, nor are environmental costs of many products. The fee on disposable bags is not an attack on consumers; it is a small and meaningful step toward sustainability and an attempt to educate and increase public awareness of our mindless waste.

The choice to use disposable bags does not affect the Baby Boomer generation. It does however affect mine. It shapes the world that I will live in. The world that my friends, my children, YOUR children, will be living in. A 10-cent fee on disposable bags won’t solve all the problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. It gets people thinking. When people become conscious of their choices, that’s when real change starts to occur.

People need an incentive to change habits. Ten cents isn’t a lot, but it’s enough to make people stop and think, and hopefully reduce their use of disposable goods in other parts of their lives. It’s a start.  For my generation and generations to come, please vote for the Disposable Bag Ordinance.

– Sincerely, Phil Carter,
FLC Student and ASFLC Student Senator, Student Services