BOSTON (CBS) – Plastic shopping bags are something most shoppers take for granted, but environmentalists have a different view. They believe they often become blight as litter and can harm marine life like dolphins and turtles.

Brookline, Great Barrington, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, and Nantucket have all put municipal bans in place.

State Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton is proposing a statewide ban be implemented by next year. “We are also wasting a lot of oil because of course plastic bags are made out of oil. Most plastic bags, especially those buried under feet or yards of other waste, are not going to decompose for arguably hundreds of years.”

Shoppers at Kiki’s Kwik Mart in Brighton have mixed opinions about this proposal. One man believes a ban would help the environment.

Another shopper opposes the ban. “Paper is great but it falls apart a lot. You can double bag with the plastic and it works out better some times.”

When a clerk asks the proverbial question ‘Paper or Plastic?’ the store is hoping the answer will be the latter. Plastic bags are much less expensive than those made of paper.

Brian Houghton of the Massachusetts Food Association believes a ban would create a hardship for many stores. “We always say the bag isn’t the problem. It’s what people do with the bag after they have used it.”

Houghton added the state’s grocers have reduced the use of all disposable bags by a third in recent years. Many stores now encourage shoppers to bring their old plastic bags in for recycling. “They get recycled back into useful products and other plastic bags.”

Both Houghton and Eldridge agree the best solution is reusable bags.

Reducing all bag use is becoming an issue across the country. Cities like Portland, Maine and San Francisco require merchants to charge a fee for every bag, regardless if it’s paper or plastic.

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