Plastic bags

As the secretary of the Wanganui branch of the National Council of Women, I was asked to write in support of the Plastic Bag Free Whanganui Group, which is seeking a ban on single-use bags in the town as a starter, and eventually wants them consigned to history completely.

We applauded the way in which the group used the River Traders' Market and the boardwalk on Saturday to visually demonstrate how many bags are carried out in an hour from the four big supermarkets in Whanganui. It is hard to believe 2000 bags were generated in that small amount of time.

How many must be consigned to the rubbish tip each day or left blowing in the wind?

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Unfortunately, plastic bags never degrade or break down, which makes them a major pollutant.

We would like each individual to rethink their use of these bags and consider other ways of conveying produce to their homes.

We are aware that people often reuse their bags, eg, for collecting dog poo or lining rubbish bins, but there must be other ways of achieving the same result without polluting our environment.

It is up to us to think of environmentally friendly ways of doing this and saving our planet one plastic bag at a time.

SHERYN DERBY, Whanganui
Hard on nature

I have just read your story in the Chronicle about plastic bags.

Yes, I agree there needs to be a big reduction in them.

I first read in the paper, or saw something on the news, or it was in the Chronicle, that a whale had been found dead on the beach overseas earlier this year. Its stomach was full of plastic bags.

Since then I have read where birds have been found dead with plastic bags. Not very nice for our wildlife, dying because they are seeking food from plastic bags.

So I tie bags up into as many knots as I can before disposing of them. That way our animals hopefully will not attempt to eat them.

I think it is one way of reducing deaths of our wildlife.

A THOMSON, Marton
Tram trauma

I enjoyed "Last Days/Trams" in the Chronicle, July 8.

The photo of Aramoho tram at the bottom of the underpass reminded me of war years. New rails were not available (also for NZ Railways). Steel needed for war needs.

I was in a tram heading to town; down one side our tram sped, off the rails it slid. Screams from teenagers. Tram headed for the river. Phew!

It ground to a halt on the grass edge. Sighs of relief. Greatest, no doubt, from the driver.

Out we got, walked up the other side to wait in the tram shed in the shopping area for another tram.

What an excellent and true story for arriving late at work at NZR engineers' office (the office was where Trafalgar Square is now).

M BENEFIELD, Whanganui
Eye evolution

In his July 8 letter, "The eyes have it", David Gash searches out a few phrases from Sean Carroll's The Making of the Fittest that might seem to weaken my earlier argument, as in "there is no explanation of how the eye equipped with visual pigments evolved in the first place".

In doing so, Mr Gash proves that he has NOT read Carroll's book.

He seems to know nothing of the opsin protein that provides the pigments in our retina (Chapter 4) still less of Chapter 8, The Making & Evolution of Complexity, where the discovery of the PAX6 eye-building gene is discussed, along with its preservation in DNA of more than 500 million years of geologic time (p213).

The brute answer to Mr Gash's suggestion that the geological time available would not allow the evolution of a fully functioning eye from a light-sensitive proto eye patch with random chance being the only available mechanism is: random chance is NOT the sole mechanism for evolutionary change over time and, second, the DNA record asserts that the changes at issue, delivering many varieties of eye, have in fact occurred.

Mr Gash should actually READ Carroll's book, or/and Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth.

RUSS HAY, Whanganui