This November when the residents of Snowmass Village in Colorado take to the ballots they will also be polled as to whether they feel the town should regulate disposable plastic shopping bags in an effort to encourage the use of reusable grocery bags. The Town Council recently voted 3-1 to put the advisory question on the ballot to get a feel for what the residents want. Mayor Bill Boineau and Councilwoman Markey Butler have heard from residents both for and against the idea of a ban, so in order to determine what the people want and to decide how they should precede they decided to let the residents weigh in and make that call. Snowmass Village is a small community of roughly 2,826 people which is located about 10 miles east of Aspen. This tight knit town is known for their skiing and snowboarding.
When a community rallies behind a bag ban there is no stopping them. The Town Council in Barrington, Rhode Island recently voted to charge the town’s solicitor to draft a disposable plastic shopping bag ban. This decision came on the heels of a recommendation by the town’s Conservation Commission to forbid plastic bags and encourage reusable shopping bags. The Commission’s recommendation also suggested that shoppers should be able to purchase paper bags for 5 cents a pop. As the ban is still in the drafting phase the specifics have yet to be announced, let alone finalized and may change before the issue goes before the council to vote. The final vote is not expected to happen until the fall, so there is time to work out and revise the details. June Speakman, the Town Council President, has gone on the record with her support of reducing plastic bag use. When there is support at that high of a level passing the ban is very promising.
London mayor Boris Johnson pushed to ban single use plastic bags prior to the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. ‘Plastic bags are an unnecessary scourge on our environment and I’ve set out my ambition to make London a plastic bag free city,’ said Johnson back in 2011. Despite his efforts the city of London does not have an official bag ban on the record – for now.
Mamaroneck, New York recently joined the ranks of fellow Westchester County city, Rye, in passing a ban of disposable shopping bags. The Village Board of Trustees in this city of 27,000 located 23 miles north of New York City unanimously approved the law that banishes both paper and plastic disposable bags and will go into action on January 16, 2013. The law gained momentum due to the hassles incurred by plastic bags, such as blocking and clogging waterways and sewers, and the negative impact the bags have on the environment when they sit in landfills.
Last we left off with the state of Illinois there was talk of legislation that would prohibit the banning of disposable plastic shopping bags and place the responsibility to recycle plastic bags on the bag manufacturers. Initially this sounds like a great idea – since only a very, very small percentage of the plastic bags in existence are recycled any effort to increase the amount of disposable plastic shopping bags recycled has got to be a good move, right? 12 year old Abby Goldberg did not think this bill was a good idea. She was so passionate about working to make sure this bill never became official that she started an online petition asking the Governor, Pat Quinn, to veto the bill, and she collected 155,000 signatures backing her up. This resourceful youth even had the opportunity to hold a press conference and present her petition to Quinn.
The Corvallis Oregon City Council unanimously voted recently to ban disposable plastic shopping bags in retail outlets. This move makes Corvallis, a city of about 54,000 people located 82 miles south west of Portland and home to Oregon State University, the second city in Oregon to ban single use plastic bags. Portland was the first city and Eugene is making great strides in their quest to become the third Oregon city to ban disposable plastic shopping bags.
A grassroots movement is underway is the town of Northampton, Massachusetts. The objective is to put an end to Styrofoam take out containers and disposable plastic bags. GREEN Northampton, a nonprofit, community driven organization is leading this charge. According to their web site this group’s mission is to foster Northampton’s community bonds and promote environmentally sustainable, low-energy and healthy lifestyles in response to climate change and resource depletion. GREEN Northampton has many big and impressive goals and ultimately they want to make the world a better place, starting with their city.
July 1 is a big day – this is the day the plastic bag ban will take effect in Seattle, Washington. The ban was passed back in December and it has an impact on all stores from small mom and pop ventures to large retail chains. There are still some folks who disagree with the ban and there continue to be small movements to overturn the law. Most of the anti-ban groups are either financed by plastic bag manufacturers or residents upset that the law was voted in by the city council and never went before the people. Shortly after the ban was voted in there was a petition to get the issue on a ballet so the people of Seattle could decide on the matter; however this grassroots movement failed to get enough signatures for the plastic bag ban to go to a city wide vote. Overall the general mood among Seattle residents is that this is the right thing to do. So many plastic bags are used and are not properly disposed of and bags end up littering waterways and causing environmental harm.
In a segment titled TELL ME MORE, Michel Martin of NPR News recently conducted an interview with Michel Bolinder of the group Anacostia Riverkeeper and Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of the libertarian magazine, Reason. These gentlemen sat down together to discuss the pros and cons of fees or taxes levied against disposable plastic bags and outright bans on these disposable bags, as well as the environmental and societal impact of measures taken to curb plastic bag use.
The folks of Fort McMurray in Alberta Canada have been living with a disposable bag ban for about 9 months, and while there have been some bumps in the road things are going very well. Fort McMurray is about a 5 hour drive northeast of Edmonton and in 2010 the regional council unanimously voted to ban single use plastic and paper shopping bags after the residents handed over a petition in favor of a ban with 2,300 signatures. The ban went into effect in September of 2011 and the rest is history. Fort McMurray’s ban only extends to plastic bags given out by retailers; liquor stores, pharmacies, and some restaurants are still allowed to distribute single use plastic bags.