Letter to the Editor, March 23, 2017: I’m Torn About How to Vote on Article 10 by Karen Sturzenacker


By Karen Sturzenacker

I’m torn about how to vote on Article 10.  As I read various opinions from residents of Bedford and other towns that are considering the same ban on plastic bags, I see both sides.

I’m left with two questions.  First, are we really trying to regulate behavior?  Second, where will it end?

For the first question, I’m disheartened that people willingly treat the earth like a garbage pail.  Tossing waste onto the sidewalk, in the woods or into a waterway is poor behavior.  I also know that despite how easy it is for town residents to recycle, our annual recycling rate hovers somewhere between 30% and 40% of full utilization.  This leaves me with the sense that people want to impose a solution to something they see as a problem without taking meaningful action themselves on a daily basis.

For the second, plastics are prevalent in our daily lives, and the shopping bags are merely one of them.  How many people in favor of the ban gather their green beans, apples, and pears into that flimsy bag on shopping day so it can be weighed at checkout?  How many are using zip-top bags to pack sandwiches and snacks for school and work lunches?

How about families who use a diaper or pet genie to dispose of waste? Who is using a plastic bag to pick up their dog’s waste from sidewalks?

Where are these bags going after they’ve been used?

This is not a condemnation of anyone, rather an attempt to ask each of us to reflect and ask what our true intentions are by proposing this ban.

Returning clean plastic bags to the grocery store when you make your next shopping trip should be an easy change in behavior.  So is making the decision not to toss it to the side of the road.

In the end, it seems to me we want someone to force change without the need for us each to make a more responsible choice.


  1. People do what they are incented to do – like the bottle bill, pay as your throw or anti-idling signs at school pick up/drop off areas. I think this is a good incentive to change behavior for the better with a low impact.

  2. I have been bringing my own, reusable, cloth bags to Stop & Shop for years, and have told clerks, “if you run out, please use paper for the rest.” Despite this, if I don’t watch the packers closely, I’ve ended up with some plastic bags: they forget, they bag the shampoo or soap, in case they leak, they wrap the eggs in a plastic bag, etc. If we’re going to eliminate single use plastic bags, it will take more than convincing the consumers.

    As far as the elderly are concerned, they can either bring reusable bags with handles with them, or purchase them when they shop.

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