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.
With fall just around the corner that means one thing to many families – it is time to go back to school. In Zoarville, Ohio for the sixth year in a row the Tuscarawas Valley school district is gearing up for the Back to School fair. This event is orchestrated by the local Community Business Association of northern Tuscarawas County and allows ccommunity service agencies and local businesses, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Tuscarawas County Public Library, Tuscarawas County Health Department and Safe Kids Coalition, Compass, NAMI, R U Stylin’, Zoar Air Design and Embroidery and Zoar Fire Department to round up school supplies for local students. The items are packed into reusable grocery bags and these care packages will be handed out to kindergarten through fourth grade students who attend the fair on a first come first serve bases.
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.
Disposable bag bans come in all shapes and sizes. Different communities have different needs so ultimately it comes down to the local governing bodies to select the best course of action. City council members in Bisbee, Arizona, a city of 6,000 people located in the south-east corner of the state unanimously passed a voluntary ban back in December on single use plastic shopping bags. The ban was structured to be voluntary for six months at which time the city council and city manager would review the success and effectiveness of the ban.
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.
In some regards southern California is on the right track when it comes to caring for the environment and reducing the amount of plastic shopping bags used within the area. Several towns and cities have either outright banned plastic shopping bags or are mulling the idea over. Evan Lewis, of La Jolla, feels these changes cannot come soon enough. This enterprising 11 year old is researching the cause, speaking at city council meetings, writing articles and doing everything he can to make plastic shopping bags a distant memory.
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.
In an effort to spread environmental awareness and encourage artistic expression the annual Resource Recovery and Recycling Division’s 2012 Art of Recycling Sustainable Student Sculpture Contest was recently held. As part of the contest Santa Monica students are invited to create and submit sculptures made from materials which are usually recycled or thrown away. The goal was to get people thinking about zero waste, as the theme “Zero Waste—Imagine a Waste Free Santa Monica” clearly identified. By creating art from trash not only did the students find new uses for discarded items, but they also were forced to think about how much garbage they create and how they currently dispose of it compared to how they should manage it.