By Terry Plotkin
This is a copy of a Letter to the Editor that I sent to my local newspaper:
Five hundred billion to one trillion: That is the estimated number of plastic grocery bags that are being used in the world each year. Greenfield has a chance to pass an ordinance to join cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and many others that have already instituted the ban on plastic grocery bags. If these big cities can pass a law, surely Greenfield can too. A trillion bags is a lot of plastic, a lot of petroleum, a lot of pollution, a lot of garbage, all of it unnecessary.
Walk into any supermarket and observe the number of plastic bags that go into each order. Three items in, then grab another bag. What a waste. This ban will encourage consumers to bring their own cloth bags when they shop.
It is not hard to keep a few canvas bags in your car and bring them into a store. The Recorder suggests what is needed is more education, but most people won’t change their behavior until they have to. The ordinance requires you to pay 10 cents for each paper bag you take; most people will quickly convert to reusable bags, and it won’t be a big deal either. The stores will save money, as they as they are the ones who are now paying for the bags. There will be less litter on the streets and less having to be hauled away. The town will make revenue off the 10 cent fee and that will go towards increasing recycling around town. The environment will be better off.
I met someone from Washington D.C. recently, and the topic of the Greenfield plastic bag ordinance came up. The woman stated that since her city placed a 5 cent fee on each plastic shopping bag, that you hardly ever saw them anymore. She said it looks strange to her now when she goes to another town and sees how many bags are being used. I checked out the statistics to see if what she said was true. The answer: Washington has seen its plastic bag usage drop from 22 million to 3 million bags per month. They use the money collected to clean up the Anacostia River.
We can do this. I urge the Town Council to take the lead in making the ban happen. If we are serious about wanting to be a green town, then we have to back it up with practical actions.