On June 12 the Branford RTM approved an ordinance to ban single use plastic bags in town.
This action came at the end of a quiet but amazingly successful campaign organized by a local group called BYO Branford. Just a group of really dedicated citizens who took the initiative to bring an important issue forward, even though some would argue that it’s not really a local issue. Of course, they recognized that it is because we all know that every action that results in a positive result begins at home.
I was unexpectedly proud of being in the room when the RTM, almost without exception, voted to approve.
I know that there were some who were concerned about repercussions from within the local merchant group, that this ban would create a burden for them. But those with whom the committee interacted, seemed willing to support it.
How wonderful it was to be in a room with politicians and members of the community and have no adversarial interaction. How do these things happen, I wondered? How do you build consensus on an issue that is inherently controversial? Well, learn the facts, for one, and keep the arguments focused on the known hazards connected to our dependence on plastic.
Many of us have succumbed to the allure of plastic as necessary to our wellbeing. What else, for instance, can you use that has all those wonderful qualities? It’s light, but sturdy, it’s waterproof, it’s easily reduced in size, easily stored.
If you’re anything like me, you probably had a large plastic bag filled with small plastic bags stored somewhere in your house. Ours was in the back hall.
So what does something like this actually mean? What will the impact be on us all? How do we cope without the ubiquitous plastic to get us through the day? How do you manage to go to the store and not have that slippery sack in our hands when you leave? Angela and I began to ween ourselves off that habit just about the time` when the cloth and vinyl bags began to appear at the checkout counters.
It seemed to make so much sense to buy one and use it over again. We decided to try to be consistent users, but without exception, I would forget to bring it in the store when I went shopping. Sometimes I would just buy another and vow to bring it back next time, and, over time, we accumulated several dozen.
So in the end, we decided to keep them in the trunk of the car, or even on the back seat, readily available when needed. It began to become habit, not really requiring a lot of thought or planning. Now, when I see someone leaving the market with a cart piled high with plastic bags, I stare in amazement.
But it’s the other shopping forays that require some improvising. Shopping in the drug store, for instance, or anywhere else for a relatively small purchase, I find myself rejecting the offer of a bag. Just a few things, I say, I’ll carry them. It’s a good feeling to do that, makes you think you’re doing something important, and in fact, you are. You’re helping to keep something bad from happening to the earth; and the animals and fish in the ocean. And, by the way, you’re helping to keep the future positive.
I love these feel-good moments when we all come together to make something worthwhile happen. How I wish there were more of them.