I strongly dislike plastic shopping bags so I don't use them. Period. But I am not prepared to tell you what to do.

I began using cloth bags at the supermarket several years ago more for selfish reasons than anything else. After a time I began to realize that my self-imposed ban on plastic was having an impact not only on the environment but on the amount of trash I was disposing of each week.

Many people stash dozens of plastic shopping bags inside a plastic shopping bag that hangs in a closet somewhere, but once that bag is full new bags simply wind up in the trash when they are unpacked. It does seem like a tremendous waste.

I began using cloth bags when it occurred to me how many one-use plastic bags it took to hold my groceries. You can't pack them full; otherwise, they split and your stuff winds up in the driveway. Tired of making extra trips to the car to carry mostly empty plastic bags into the house, I switched to the cloth ones.

The cloth bags are better than the cheesy plastic ones because they have stronger handles and seams and can be packed full, thus reducing the number of trips back and forth to the car. I like that.

Cloth bags can cost you a dollar or two apiece but it is worth it. You can also get them for free, as often times they are given out as promotional items at travel shows, conventions, and other such events. I've got a bunch and they didn't cost me a thing. The AAA Travel show at Gillette each March is a good place to collect them.

The proposal for a local ban on plastic bags is flawed because it only targets certain stores. That in and of itself makes it unfair. It also injects the government into the decision-making process that belongs to merchants and consumers.

I support a reduction in the use of plastic bags and have made a decision to use fewer. I wish you would as well but it's not my place to tell you what to do. It certainly should not be the role of the government, either.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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