December 21: http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/21/we-dont-need-any-more-plastic-bags/
Plastic shopping bags are everywhere in our society. They are made from oil, never degrade, pollute our environment, and are expensive for businesses to give away for free.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses 150 per year. There are about 16,000 residents of Waterville. That means 2.4 million plastic bags are used in Waterville alone every year. A plastic bag is about a foot across. If you put the 2.4 million plastic bags Waterville uses each year end to end, it would stretch over 8,000 football fields. This needs to change.
Let’s assume that half of these bags come from one of the Hannafords in Waterville. According to the Hannaford in the Elm Plaza, they pay $32 for a box of 2,000 plastic bags, or 1.6 cents per bag. So that means each Hannaford store in Waterville is paying approximately $19,200 every year to hand out free plastic shopping bags. That is nearly $40,000 every year spent by Hannaford in Waterville alone. This needs to change.
That’s why the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is working on drafting and proposing an ordinance to the Waterville City Council that would do the following:
1. Prohibit the use of plastic shopping bags only at businesses in Waterville where food sales make up 2 percent or more of their total sales — such as grocery stores.
2. Paper bags would still be available free of charge at check out. This will support the forest products industry rather than the oil industry.
3. Encourage folks to bring their own reusable shopping bags from home to the store with them.
A dozen Maine towns have already banned or placed a small fee on plastic shopping bags to discourage their use. Waterville should be next. For more information, go to www.bringyourownbag.info.
Deceber 17: http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/12/17/time-to-stop-using-harmful-plastic-bags/
Twelve million barrels of oil are used annually to make these bags. Approximately 2.5 million of these bags are used in Waterville per year; 380 billion in the U.S. Most are discarded — only 5 percent are recycled — and unlike organic waste, they don’t break down, creating environmental hazards and unsightly trash.
We have all used these bags. But can we justify continuing to use them when it is relatively easy to switch to reusable bags?
Since our governor vetoed L.D. 57, which would have promoted the use of reusable bags by encouraging municipal-level regulations, it is now up to municipalities to do this on their own. Cities across the United States have been banning plastic shopping bags, and several Maine cities have done the same. In fact, Boston is on the verge of banning plastic shopping bags.
A dedicated group from the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is proposing a Waterville ordinance for a partial ban on plastic shopping bags. It would apply to stores, cafes and restaurants where food makes up more than 2 percent of sales. Paper bags would still be used. This is a sensible step to take that will not place undue inconvenience on businesses or citizens.
If you have an interest in seeing this positive action take place, please communicate with your city councilor to voice support.
As I walked in to Thomas College on Election Day, I wondered what kind of reception I would receive when I approached people to sign my petition to ask the Waterville City Council to ban plastic bags in various stores. The positive response was overwhelming. More than 300 Waterville residents signed the petition, which read, “Ban plastic grocery and shopping bags at Waterville businesses where food sales make up 2 percent or more of total sales. This would include grocery stores, convenience stores, cafes, restaurants, bars, and other businesses that primarily sell food. Many businesses won’t be affected. Paper bags would still be available free of charge.”
Our goal is to reduce the amount of plastic grocery bags clogging our storm drains, littering our road sides, and collecting in our oceans. A ban would also reduce the amount of time our public works employees need to spend picking up litter in our public parks. Since plastic bags are not biodegradable, this pollution will remain forever. Although paper bags will still be available, we sincerely hope people will develop the habit of keeping reusable shopping bags in their cars and bringing these into the grocery store.
It was gratifying to know people join me in recognizing the multiple detriments caused by plastic grocery bags. On behalf of Sustain Mid Maine Coalition’s Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Team, thank you to those who support us in this endeavor. If you would like to learn more about our campaign, I invite you to attend one of our upcoming educational events. We will be showing the video “Bag It.” Go to sustainmidmainecoalition.org for dates and locations.
Let’s make Waterville the next place added to the list of 12 municipalities who have already adopted either a fee or a ban on plastic grocery bags.