Letter to the Editor, March 23, 2017: Article 10: Plastic Bag Reduction in Business Establishments by Carol Reynolds

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By Carol Reynolds

I’ve been hearing pros and cons lately regarding this proposed General Bylaw Amendment.  My friends and I are generally aware of all the negative aspects of disposable plastic bags in the environment: that they’re harmful to our health, they harm wildlife, and they create unsightly scenes along our roadsides.  Our town cannot recycle these thin bags.  Our town pays for the clean-up of these windswept bags.

When I first read the proposed bylaw amendment, I thought it doesn’t go far enough.  I imagined that business establishments would automatically start using paper bags in place of single-use plastic.   Some studies show paper bags take more energy and water to produce and have greater shipping costs.

Rather than get into a debate over which is better, paper or plastic, it’s more important to ask “how can we improve Bedford’s environment?” Hopefully, clerks will start asking “do you need a bag?”

The purpose of the bylaw should be to encourage people to shift towards using reusable bags when they shop.   Studies have shown that educational campaigns alone aren’t as effective as bans or fees.

Bringing a bag to a store may be an inconvenience initially, but over time will become second nature.  Just as most of us automatically “buckle-up” when we drive or ride; hopefully, we’ll also become accustomed to putting a bag in our car for a trip to the store.

Hopefully, with the passage of this bylaw, the term “BYOB” will begin to mean “Bring Your Own Bag.”  Hopefully, Bedford will join over 40 other towns in Massachusetts that have passed a similar bylaw.   Please vote ‘yes’ on article 10.

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