2017-09-14 / Editorial

All sides should buy into plastic bag ban

Many Jamestowners are concerned about protecting the environment and the lasting impact our actions as humans can have on generations to come.

A proposed ordinance banning single-use plastic bags is scheduled for a public hearing Monday night. It would ban businesses from using plastic checkout bags. There are some exemptions, such as bags used for produce, newspapers and dry cleaning.

The move toward banning these types of bags in favor of more eco-friendly paper or reusable bags has been a trend for more than a decade, and one that has consistently been gaining support nationwide. Plastic bags also are an ongoing issue during island-wide clean-up efforts so any move toward lessening their detrimental impact on the environment is a positive step.

We’d like to think businesses would see the greater good and support the idea.

So. the town council should adopt the ordinance, but we’d suggest these caveats:

Delay the immediate implementation of the ban. Several local businesses have a stash of single-use plastic bags and not providing them time to deplete their inventory seems a bit rash. We would like to see a six-month phase-in period that allows these businesses to use up their supply while switching to a more eco-friendly option. That also would provide an opportunity to find locations where the bags can be used, such as the community farm, vendors at farmers markets and even The Jamestown Press.

We’d also like to see the town put its money where its mouth is by adopting a program similar to the Newport Re-uses one across the bay. The campaign provides education and outreach in order to promote the use of reusable plastic bags. These cost just 10 to 25 cents per bag so if the town purchased two bags each for the approximately 2,400 housing units on the island, the cost would be between just $500 and $1,200. The bags could be made available at various public locations, such as town hall, the library and the recreation center.

That seems like a small price for the town to pay when it’s asking businesses to take on an extra financial burden of their own.

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