Letter: It’s Misleading to Say Grocery Bags are Being Banned in Greenwich

Letter from Rob Marks in response to letter from Brooks Harris published on March 3, titled: “Your Grocery Bags Are About to Be Banned in Greenwich!”

Not at all: This headline is Totally Misleading

This headline is very misleading and completely incorrect. Grocery bags are NOT being banned: The proposal is to ban SINGLE-USE plastic bags, except in the case of fresh vegetables, fruits and other items that could drip into a reusable bag. The idea is for consumers to bring their own, reusable bag to the store, so that others don’t have to see single use waste scattered around Greenwich and also so that consumers don’t all have to pay for single-use bags, whose cost is embedded in the retailer’s pricing.

The author of the post, Brooks Harris, also makes a number of misleading claims in his post:

1 It is very rare to see a stray plastic bag in Greenwich. Really? The beach cleanup at Todd’s Point on Sunday February 25 th produced an estimated two tons of waste, including a large number (although uncounted and unweighed) of plastic bags. And this is after a few months when wind almost certainly blew many plastic bags into Long Island Sound or into the wetlands. I have seen countless plastic bags blown up against chain link fences in Greenwich parks. And have you ever looked alongside the Metro North line as it heads into and from New York City? Plastic bag waste is everywhere.

2 Let’s fix the recycling laws first. Residents are supposed to recycle plastic bags, but many clearly do not. What does Mr. Harris have in mind to make them recycle? Besides, and more importantly, plastic does not degrade. It can be incinerated, not a good solution, or it can be cut up into little pieces, but those pieces end up in landfills. The point of this initiative is to reduce plastic waste before it is created.

3 Drive to Port Chester to shop? Let’s examine that statement: With regular gas hovering around $3.00 per gallon at the moment, and assuming an average car gets 30 mpg in the city (a generous assumption), then it costs $.10/mile to drive. Some who live very close to the Port Chester or Stamford borders might find it economic, but the large majority of Greenwich residents will not find it worthwhile to drive to nearby towns to save $.25, which cost they could avoid simply by carrying along a reusable bag. And this is ignoring the time it takes to make the trip to a neighboring town.

4 Germs in reusable bags, as they are hard to clean. First of all, as noted in the introduction, the proposed ordinance ALLOWS plastic bags to be used for vegetable, fruits, and other fresh items that may leave stains in reusable bags. But when you go to CVS to buy boxed toiletries, or to the grocery store to buy canned soup, you are hopefully going to bring a REUSABLE bag, as is the custom throughout much of Europe. And, really, is it that hard to wash out the inside of a reusable bag with a soapy sponge on occasion?

The point is this: As a nation, we are creating enormous amounts of waste, much of which is really not necessary. A recent Op-Ed in the New York Times (“Let’s Bag Plastic Bags” March 4, 2018) noted that the average American throws away about 10 single-use plastic bags per week. Is it really so difficult to bring your own bag along to prevent this unnecessary waste?