Connecticut finally passed a plastic bag ban that’s effective as of August 1, but only after local towns – one after another – passed their own ordinances banning plastic and placing fees on paper bags.
Advocates Led The Charge, Not Government Leaders
Advocates like BYO Greenwich – and all the BYOs they spawned including Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Fairfield and Guilford – helped lead the charge to pass town ordinances that ban single-use plastic checkout bags, along with other advocacy groups including Skip the Plastic Norwalk. It goes without saying that anyone sick of seeing plastic bags blowing in the breeze, stuck in trees and ruining the lives of animals was fired up enough to show up and testify, write letters, do op-eds and stand up to entrenched industry. It was time to ban the bag.
The goal was, and remains, to achieve source reduction. Why? We have a massive waste problem and recyclable materials that once had value no longer do. That means recyclables that were ones revenue producers are now financial liabilities for municipalities.
Plastic bags are not recyclable in the blue bin. They were designed to be used once, maybe twice, but they last a long, long time after being disposed of, even in water or soil. That’s why we see them on beaches, in trees, on sidewalks and blowing through parking lots. We also see animals eating or getting ensnared in plastic bags.
Single-use plastic bags are the poster child for a massive problem: our take, make waste linear economy.
Buy and Use Less Stuff
We need to stop consuming and throwing things away because we’re burning or burying our waste and it’s unsustainable. One town in CT is burning its recycling because it’s too expensive to get rid of it.
Bring your own reusable bag(s) when you shop is the real message consumers should be hearing. You’re supposed to feel the pain of paying a 10 cent fee per bag so you learn to bring your own.
Why isn’t this top level message in any of the media articles we’re reading? They miss the real point and the opportunity to underscore that plastic bags are just one item we need to address in our wasteful culture if we want to remain on this planet. Think reuse before recycle. Think zero waste. Don’t leave a wake.
Advocates Were So Successful That State Lawmakers Had to Take Action
The argument was “How will retailers keep up with a patchwork of local plastic bag ordinances?” Advocates and everyone who piled onto their petitions helped propel the state law as town ordinances gained momentum. The state law was designed to avoid the patchwork, but didn’t quite achieve that due to its imperfections. Advocates made sure it didn’t supersede local ordinances, which was no easy feat. Hats off to the advocates!
Why Is Change So Hard?
Changing human behavior is complicated. It’s also complicated to fight the plastic lobby and soothe people who think something – a freedom or right for heaven’s sake – is being taken from them. I’ve read the comments on articles and social media posts. It boggles the mind. Some people think they’re being robbed of their American liberties.
Nobody has the right to pollute, create waste that’s challenging to recycle and ends up fouling waterways and killing sea, land and air creatures. I mean if you stop and think for a minute, who would be proud to exercise that right?
All You Need to Know About CT’s Plastic Bag Ban
Our state law mandating a 10 cent tax on each single-use plastic checkout bag at all retailers started on August 1, 2019. Please carry your own reusable bags wherever you go to avoid the state tax and be a zero waste hero.
Home Depot, CVS, Walgreen’s, Shop Rite, Target, Rite Aid, your local deli and more are all subject to this new law meant to achieve source reduction. That means don’t create waste. It’s a luxury we can no longer afford.
Plastic bag bans have been very successful in Europe. I remember being charged for bags in Ireland 11 years ago. Many neighboring states have laws more stringent than ours, including New York, which has banned single-use plastic checkout bags entirely. We’re easing into it, which is silly.
Fortunately some retailers have decided to take a stand and stop the plastic madness now.
Big Y and Stop & Shop have voluntarily gone single-use plastic bag free! Aldi’s has never distributed them and overall is the #1 ranked supermarket on Greenpeace’s 2019 Supermarket Plastics Scorecard. Whole Foods pays you to bring your own bags and doesn’t distribute plastic at the counter. Most stores sell reusable bags.
Paper bags are really no better because they still use natural resources and energy to manufacture. Avoiding single-use bags is the way to go. Again, the goal is zero waste. Find a reusable bag that you can wash off in your sink or washing machine.
Pack your reusable bags in your car and roll up a lightweight reusable bag like the one pictured above to store in your pocket book or backpack.
PLEASE NOTE: State law does not supersede local bag ordinances that ban the distribution of single-use bags. Avoid any discrepancies between state law and local ordinances simply by carrying your own reusable bags.
According to this new state law, the taxes collected go to the state Department of Revenue Service, not the store. Do you really want to pay more than you already are to live here? No, I didn’t think so. Avoid the tax and carry your own, always and everywhere.
Why is this called a ban when it’s just a tax? Long story short, this is phase one, an accommodation to certain parties, and phase two bans single-use plastic bags outright. That kicks in June 30, 2021, but why wait for the training wheels to come off?
WE ARE SO READY FOR THIS! BE A ZERO SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAG HERO AND CARRY YOUR OWN EVERYWHERE YOU GO!
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