Bag ban brainstorm to be held March 19

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BENNINGTON — Local businesses and and community members are invited to brainstorm about a possible one-time-use bag ban in Bennington at a gathering at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse next Tuesday, March 19, at 6 p.m.

The "Business & Community Bag-Ban Brainstorm," invites people to learn what is already being done to care for the earth, see how a bag ban responds to the growing environmental crisis, explore how a bag ban could work and give their input as the town makes its plans.

Climate Advocates Bennington and Eaarth Advocates of Second Congregational Church invite people to "be on the ground floor as a proposal is developed so we can care for an endangered earth, vitally important local businesses and people who are vulnerable," according to a press release.

At the meeting, attendees will share thoughts about the need regarding plastic bags, and how an ordinance might create opportunities and challenges for community members in terms of cutting the use of one-time plastics, and, as a first step, one-time-use plastic bags.

Attendees are also asked to explore how the community will provide reusable bags for those who need them in the event of a single-use-plastic bag ban.

Advocates for bans on single-use plastic shopping bags met with officials in January on the town and county levels to promote enactment of ban ordinances, the Banner previously reported.

Those involved in the issue have studied what more than 100 communities around the Northeast have done to cut or end the use of one-time plastics, according to the release.

Members of Climate Advocates of Bennington, which is associated with 350 Vermont, gave a presentation to the Select Board in January on the environmental damage a ban would seek to address and on proposals to spread information on the issue while demonstrating support through an ongoing petition drive.

Several members of the group gave a similar presentation, also in January, to a meeting of the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance board, which has representatives from 13 county towns.

Michelle Alexander, Elizabeth Schumacher and Barbara True-Weber provided an overview of plastics pollution and approaches to banning bags and other products to remove them from the waste stream, the Banner has reported.

Alexander provided study information on the build-up of plastics pollution in landfills and in the environment.

Only about 1 percent of single-use plastic bags are recycled, she said, while billions of bags are deposited in landfills and an estimated 8.8 million tons of plastics moves downstream to the oceans each year.

That trash is broken down by the action of water, waves and sunlight into microplastic bits that cause pollution and are consumed by waterlife and birds.

In reaction to the presentation, some members of the solid waste board voiced concerns about enforcing ordinances, especially in smaller towns with limited staff, and about the cost impacts on consumers, local businesses and regional chains.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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