Foregoing Plastic: A Forum on Belmont Bag Ban Tuesday March 27

Photo: Plastic bags on the way out in Belmont? One group hopes so.

The Belmont Bag Ban Group, an ad-hoc group advocating for the ban single-use plastic bags at the check-out lines, is holding a forum to hear details of the proposed bylaw, and ask questions on Tuesday, March 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. Speakers will include Belmont organizers as well as environmental activists. Citizens are welcome to attend.

The proposed ban will be before the annual Town Meeting in May after the Belmont Board of Selectmen’s unanimous vote in March to place an article on the Town Meeting warrant prohibiting single-use plastic bags at stores.

The Belmont Bag Ban Group is hoping Belmont will join the 61 towns and cities in the Commonwealth and hundreds across the country and world that approved similar bans. One of the campaigners, Terese Hammerle, is excited that Belmont is poised to be part of a growing list of districts moving towards a more environmentally sustainable future.

“Simple alternatives such as reusable shopping bags and biodegradable single-use shopping bags are available everywhere and The Belmont Bag Group is working to ensure that anyone who needs reusable bags has access to them,” Hammerle says. Paper bags, which biodegrade naturally, will still be available at no cost to the customer, Hammerle notes.

“Several stores in Belmont are already prepared because they operate in communities in which a plastic bag ban is in effect,” she states.

One trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide each year, harming wildlife and littering our environment, making up the third largest type of litter from land-based sources found on U.S. coasts. While plastic bags are convenient and cheap, the Sierra Club cautions the environmental expense far exceeds the cost retailers pay to provide them. The flimsy material harms wildlife as they are often mistaken for food in our waterways and are sometimes used as nesting materials.

“Take a walk around town and see the bags caught in tree branches and trapped on sewer grates; they are so aerodynamic that even when properly disposed of, they blow away,” says organizer Mark Carthy. “And it takes estimated 200-plus years for plastic to photodegrade.”

“The forum will provide a good opportunity to hear from our community and provide educational materials. We’ll also have a number of items to a raffle that encourages sustainability,” adds Linda Levin-Scherz, another organizer.

Residents are encouraged to bring extra lifetime bags that the Bag Ban Group will launder and distribute to those who might find purchasing a bag a burden.

If you would like more information please contact: Terese Hammerle at teresehammerle@me.com

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