Letter to the editor submitted on March 7 from René LaPointe Jameson, GHS class of 2018:
My name is René LaPointe Jameson and I am a senior at Greenwich High School.
Along with being a typical teenager that loves sleeping and listening to music, I am an ambassador of The Jane Goodall Institute on the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council.
At GHS, I lead the Roots & Shoots club, a branch of the global youth-led community action program inspired by Dr. Goodall, that identifies prevalent community issues and alleviates them through service projects. Plastic bag pollution is an issue the Roots & Shoots Club and I have constantly encountered. When organizing our annual food drives, we often are provided donations in plastic bags. With the GHS community consisting of around 3,000 people, at the end of each food drive, we always have hundreds of plastic bags leftover that we donate to a local animal shelter.
Despite this action’s attempts to lessen the number of plastic bags polluting the areas around GHS and Greenwich, plastic bag pollution in our local ecosystems is increasing and has detrimental consequences.
Upon learning of BYOGreenwich and the Reusable Checkout Bag Ordinance (RCBO), I was thrilled because I know this ordinance will cause powerful positive change in our town and beyond.
The RCBO will not only reduce plastic bag pollution in our community but also inspire Greenwich citizens to live more sustainable lives, for example, by encouraging the use of reusable bags. I love that BYOGreenwich has ensured that the RCBO’s purpose of having Greenwich citizens live more sustainably is inclusive of all people due to other BYOGreenwich initiatives such as reusable bag drives that provide reusable bags to those who cannot afford them or do not have any. The RCBO is wonderful because it motivates our town to reflect upon its role in creating plastic bag pollution and challenges each of us to change our environmentally-negative habits. Due toBYOGreenwich’s comprehensive ordinance and related initiatives, there is no reason for individuals to not incorporate simple sustainable actions, such as using reusable bags, into their daily lives.
Many people want change, yet are unwilling to change their own habits and recognize the negative impact their actions may have on their community. When someone says their use of only one plastic bag “doesn’t matter”, it may not seem significant, but over time the use of “only one” plastic bag adds up. The average person will use around 83 plastic bags each year. With a population of around 60,000 people, Greenwich uses around 5 million bags a year! Only around 1% of used plastic bags are recycled meaning the majority of these bags end up in the environment. As the plastic bags photodegrade in the environment, they release toxins that go directly into our beloved local ecosystems such as Tod’s Point, the Long Island Sound, even the Mianus River, negatively affecting local animals and eventually people by moving through the food chain. By passing the RCBO,Greenwich will become a leader in inspiring a movement for good public health by limiting the presence of toxins in these places we love and our own bodies.
Every day in our town plastic bags are being introduced into the environment where they remain for hundreds of years. The RCBO makes sense to me because we simply cannot continue functioning at this level which produces so much plastic bag pollution. Members of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) need to pass the RCBO because if we will not take action against plastic bag pollution now, then when? As Dr. Goodall said, “There’s still a lot left worth fighting for.”
I urge RTM members to pass this ordinance, if not for their own health or the over 100,000 marine animals that die each year from plastic bag pollution, then for my generation’s sake. We do not want to inherit this environmentally distraught and damaged world that your generation has created and has not sufficiently addressed. The health and longevity of our community will be supported by reducing plastic bag pollution through the RCBO and this outweighs certain individuals’ discomfort towards change or the efforts required to simply use a reusable bag.
Thank you. I look forward to attending the RTM meeting at Central Middle School on Monday, March 12th.
René LaPointe Jameson, GHS class of 2018