A ban does help change consumer behavior.
Study after study has shown that bans have reduced bag waste anywhere from 60% up to 90%. Ireland, which requires a 22 cent fee for plastic bags; has dropped annual bag usage from almost 350 to 14 per person between 2007 and 2012.
So, which towns in Vermont have begun the process?
Brattleboro was the first town in Vermont to ban plastic bags as of July 1, 2018.
So far, town officials say the transition has been smooth.
But with an estimated population of 12,000, Brattleboro’s bag ban will…
-Reduce trash and toxins by 6.4 million bags per year
-Eliminate 170 metric tons per year of greenhouse gases (caused by manufacturing, distribution, and disposal of plastic bags)
-Save Brattleboro retailers $254,880 a year on buying plastic bags
But who else is trying to ban plastic bags in Vermont?
-Wilmington, VT-already banned
-Manchester, VT has been endorsed by the Selectboard but waiting for a state-wide law
-Montpelier, VT—approved, just needs state approval
-Burlington, VT—on the 2019 ballot
-Middlebury, VT—on the 2019 ballot
-Bristol, VT—a campaign coalition has formed
-Vergennes, VT—just beginning
-Hartford, VT- still researching
As a consumer, you can:
-VOTE YES TO ELIMINATE PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS
-BRING YOUR OWN REUSEABLE BAG
-REUSE PLATIC SHOPPING BAGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
-GIVE REUSABLE BAGS TO SENIORS, WIC PROGRAM, FOOD PANTRY USERS
-USE CHIP AND OTHER NON-RECYCLABLE BAGS AS WASTEBASKET LINERS/POOP BAGS
-ALWAYS RECYCLE IN SOME WAY THE PLASTIC THAT YOU CANNOT AVOID GETTING
If you’re a merchant, you can:
-SAVE MONEY BY ELIMINATING PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS
-ASK CUSTOMERS TO BRING THEIR OWN BAGS
-SELL/PROVIDE CUSTOMERS WITH REUSEBALE BAGS (using your logo or branding!)
-SET UP A BAG TREE or a ‘TAKE ONE, LEAVE ONE’ BOX
-DEDUCT THE COST OF A BAG WHEN CUSTOMERS BRING THEIR OWN
-OFFER CUSTOMERS YOUR CARDBOARD SHIPPING BOXES
-FOR EVERY BAG REFUSED, PUT 5 cents INTO A FUND FOR THE FOOD BANK OR OTHER CHARITY
-RECYCLE AS MUCH OF THE PLASTIC THAT YOU CANNOT AVOID GETTING
Whether bag laws will incentivize large companies to make more responsible choices or just make everyday people more mindful of using the already existing re-usable bags we accidentally leave in the car…we can all agree that it’s a step in the right direction.