LETTER: AMHERST’S PLASTIC BAN BYLAW SHOULD BE KEPT UNCHANGED

Americans consume 100 billion single use plastic bags every year, but less than five percent of these bags are recycled. Many communities ban the use of these single use bags. Photo: army.mil

Did you know The Amherst Town Council will vote Monday on whether to revise our town plastic bag ban

Amherst residents voted in 2016 to approve the plastic bag ban and now there are 140 Massachusetts cities and towns with similar bans. A state-wide ban is in the works. Let’s not reverse the progress we have made and fought hard to put in place.

We are keenly aware that we pay the price for plastic pollution with our health, litter on our streets and landscapes, damage to recycling equipment and, sadly, the entanglement and death of aquatic life.  Municipal plastic bag bans are currently suspended by State Mandate, the result of a successful effort by the plastics lobby to promote the unfounded idea that reusable bags increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.  Many organizations and citizens are applying pressure to again allow use of reusable bags as soon as possible

This coming Monday, the Town Council will vote on amendments to the plastic bag bylaw suggested by the Bylaw Review Committee, and the Governance, Organization and Legislative Committee. This ban was initially written in consultation with much research and best practices. Let’s urge our Councilors to continue to be the leaders we voted them to be and protect and keep the plastic bag ban as originally written. It is not broken, there is no need to change it.

In this time of COVID-19, there are many other pressing issues to address in town and globally. Let’s move Amherst forward with more ambitious, environmentally friendly policies that will enhance our collective health and well-being. A ban on single-use plastics (straws, lids, cups, utensils and so on) would be a fitting next step.

What you can do: Please contact your Town Councilor by Monday morning at https://www.amherstma.gov/3435/Town-Council to urge they keep the plastic bag ban in place, as originally enacted. We urge the Town Councilors to continue with their great work of advancing bold ways for Amherst to be an environmental leader. 

Brenda K. Davies
Art Keene

Christina Platt
On behalf of Zero Waste Amherst


Brenda K. Davies is a town resident and was a member of the Town’s former Recycling and Refuse Management Committee for five years.  She participated in the creation of the expanded polystyrene and plastic bag bans.

Art Keene is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at UMass and Managing Editor of The Amherst Indy.  He has lived in Amherst since 1982.

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