First Westport, then Greenwich banned plastic bags, Nowalk’s ban goes into effect in July and the statewide ban goes into effect in 2021. Stamford’s ban is one month in so it’s time to share some first impressions. The first week was a bit rough. Questions and annoyance abounded in the check-out lines. Despite the best efforts of our grocery stores to share the news (thank you ShopRite for your “countdown” posters), many folks were still caught unaware. We knew the change wouldn’t be easy, but we’ve gotten over the hump and now it has become, well, normal to bring a re-usable bag into the store. And when we forget, it’s suddenly OK to walk out of a store holding our purchases; a bit awkward, sure, but it’s happening. Removing plastic bags and putting a price on paper bags is changing our collective behavior.
It’s no surprise. Think about how many destructive behaviors we have changed over the years. Not too long ago it was common for people to smoke inside buildings or to ignore the seat belts in our cars. That was normal then, but now it’s…. not.
The same is true of single-use plastic bags. Suddenly we see how unnecessary it is to stash our purchases in a plastic bag as we walk out the door. We just don’t NEED that bag, and within just a month, most people no longer even want it.
Some folks have pointed out that most plastic in the global environment comes from far away and that our ban won’t make difference. That argument just doesn’t work. Sure, most global plastic pollution is from Asia and our ban won’t impact the Plastic Gyre of the Pacific but it will make an actual difference right here in our biggest regional waterway: Long Island Sound.
The impact on our local environment will be immediate. At SoundWaters, we have become accustomed to finding bits of plastic bags – in the marshes, out on the Sound and all around. We’ll now see fewer and fewer and that will make a difference right here in our community and out on the Sound.