Single-Use Plastic-Bag Ban Instituted In Greenwich
Greenwich Time, September 14, 2018
By Hannah Dellinger
Rob Martin was scrambling Monday to ensure his shop will be in compliance with an impending ban on single-use plastic bags. Martin, co-owner of East Putnam Variety, stepped out of the back room of his shop after a phone call with town officials to tell his business partner the paper bags they were considering purchasing didn’t match the measurements of thickness required in Greenwich’s new reusable checkout bag ordinance, which comes into effect on Wednesday.
Finding the right recycled paper bags at the best price is tricky, said Martin.
“Anytime you spend more money, it’s a hardship,” Martin said of the change for his business. Despite the hassle and the cost, Martin said he’s in favor of the ban. “I think it’s a good thing for everybody,” he said. “The waste is just clogging up everything. Environmentally, I do think it’s a good thing.” The Representative Town Meeting passed the ordinance in March.
The ban, which targets the thin, single-use plastic bags common in grocery stores and other places of business, is meant to encourage shoppers to carry reusable bags with them. It doesn’t include bags used for newspapers, produce, dry cleaning or food delivery. Paper bags made of at least 40 percent recycled paper are allowed and customers won’t be charged a fee for their use. The ban will end in three years and will be reconsidered then.
Business owners back to top
Other merchants like David Johnson, owner of Putnam & Vine Wine and Spirits, are fully prepared for the change. Even before the ban, the store offered reusable wine bags. Johnson recently acquired reusable bags designed to tote six packs of beer, for which customers must pay $2. Recycled paper bags are also available. Putnam & Vine has been in compliance with the ordinance since Sept. 1, according to Johnson.
Since then, he said he’s already seen customers bringing back their reusable bags. “I think it gets people in the habit of reusing,” Johnson said. “Obviously, if they bring their own bag back, they don’t pay for it again.” The store will credit customers who bring back large stacks of bags, said Johnson. Port Chester resident Suzanne Bethel made an extra trip in the pouring rain back to her car in the Stop & Shop parking lot on West Putnam Avenue to grab her reusable bag Monday. She was unaware of the ban, but said she hasn’t used plastic bags in years. “[Plastic is] polluting the oceans,” she said. “It’s causing untold damage to fish and to other wildlife in the ocean. It’s also causing everything to be untidy.” Bethel, the mother of a college student pursuing environmental studies, said she wishes New York would implement its own ban. “But they’re not, so I just bring my own bags,” she said.
Anne Ogilvy, member of Bring Your Own Greenwich, worked with the group for months to bring the ban to a vote in the RTM. “When it doesn’t happen at the state level, you gotta take it on yourself,” she said. “You can’t wait for somebody else to do it.” Ogilvy said it’s exciting to see her initiative come to fruition. “So many people worked together to make it happen,” she said. “It was a town-wide collaboration. We all love our town, its natural resources and want to preserve it for our future generations.” Though Ogilvy considers the ban a victory, she said it’s just a small milestone on a larger quest to make a positive impact on the environment. “The work doesn’t end just because of a plastic bag ban,” she said.