Some Voice Opposition to Proposed Ban of Thin Plastic Bags; Town Legislators To Meet Wednesday

Saying it’s punitive, unnecessary and unsanitary and represents government overreach, some New Canaan residents are voicing opposition to a proposed ban on thin plastic bags at local shops. 

Though members of New Canaan’s legislative body say most constituents who have lodged their opinions in formal letters are in favor a single-use plastic bag ban, others have been critical of the proposal. Jeanne Russo in a letter to the Town Council said that such bans often have “unintended negative results.”

“Expecting senior citizens or lower income families to buy reusable bags, so some in our community can feel good about themselves by ‘doing their part,’ is unfair and wrong,” Russo wrote. “You represent all members in our community, not just the ones with loud voices.”

Town resident Nicole Busby said that while she’s in favor of people bringing reusable bags with them to local shops, she’s opposed to an outright ban on plastic bags because “it’s an overreach of government.”

Scott Hobbs in a letter to the Council said that while single-use plastic bags may seem wasteful, “they are all sanitary.”

“Recycled bags frequently get contaminated from use with food and most people do not properly maintain them,” he said. “In addition, if you look at the chemicals, water and time involved in properly maintaining the reusable bags, it is likely that they cost more and are at least closer to as harmful to the environment. Please do not pass such a resolution.”

The comments come as the Town Council Bylaws and Ordinance Committee considers draft legislation (see it here in full) that would prohibit retailers from supplying double-handled carryout bags to customers.

Westport to New Canaan: Unless Local Merchants Embrace Banning Plastic Bags, Don’t Bother

A ban on standard-sized, single-use plastic bags on retail checkout at New Canaan businesses can only work if merchants themselves are not only backing but also leading the effort, town conservation officials say. Given that paper bags can cost four or five times more than plastic ones, the town must think creatively about how the change feasibly could happen without damaging the bottom line for local businesses that already do so much to support New Canaan causes, community events and human services needs, members of the Conservation Commission said at their most recent meeting. Those interested in pursuing a focused ban on single-use plastic bags must “step out with small merchants so that the small merchants are really spearheading it, so they have a leadership role with us helping—that is how I would love to see it happen in New Canaan, because we love our small businesses and they do so much for the town,” commissioner Miki Porta said at the group’s Dec. 11 meeting, held in the Art Room at Lapham Community Center. “It really has to be a partnership.”

Westport, prompted by concerns for the environment (more on that below), has had a ban in effect since March of 2009, and Liz Milwe and Jeff Weiser, each of whom helped lead Westport toward its plastic bag ban, attended the meeting as guests, as did town resident Molly Farnsworth, one advocate for a similar effort here.