BRATTLEBORO—On July 1, Brattleboro became the first town in Vermont to ban single-use plastic bags. After a community vote at Representative Town Meeting, the Selectboard passed the ban against plastic bags 2.25 mil or less last November.
“Plastic bags have been banned by municipalities across the country, including the entire states of Hawaii and California and over 50 municipalities just south of us in Massachusetts. We are a progressive state with a population that cares about our environment,” Tim Maciel, who is working with legislators toward adopting a statewide ban, said in a news release.
On July 9, the Bag Share program will be available at various retail and grocery locations throughout town. Brattleboro Food Co-Op, Hotel Pharmacy, Brown & Roberts, and Brooks Memorial Library are among the first businesses participating.
The program is simple: Take a bag or leave a bag.
The program, started by a coalition of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, 350VT, residents, and business owners, has three goals. They hope to help reinforce and facilitate the routine of bringing reusable bags when people shop, decrease the stress of forgetting bags at home while making purchases, and provide a community resource for families with limited income if unable to acquire reusable cloth bags.
Erin Scaggs, owner of Elliot Street Fish & Chips and DBA board member, first brought the idea of Bag Share to Facebook. The coalition ran with it from there.
“One big step for our town. One small step for our planet,” said Stewart Mcdermet, who worked on creating the reusable cloth bags. The coalition promoted a contest for residents to submit a design that would be chosen for the bag. The winner was Ryan McCormick.
“The climate economy is one where our entrepreneurs, merchants, and community leaders are leading with the health of our environment equal to economic development. Thank you to the Brattleboro residents for giving us such a concrete tool. We are excited for this bag-share program to implement the policy even more effectively,” said DBA Executive Director Stephanie Bonin.
Some state legislators are also taking notice of the coalitions effort. “I am so proud that our town of Brattleboro is stepping up to address this challenging issue. It’s a great example of grassroots citizen action to tackle an environmental problem. This is how we re-invigorate our democracy,” said state Rep. Mollie Burke, P-Brattleboro.
“I applaud your efforts and expect that it will provide leadership for the entire state to ban plastic single-use bags in the interests of the environment and sanity,” said retiring state Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster. “I believe success in Brattleboro means a statewide ban within the next two years.”
There are more local movements to ban the bags in Middlebury, Arlington, Peru, and Manchester.
State Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D-Putney, has introduced bills to ban plastic bags statewide. The most recent one being H.105.
“By introducing H. 105, a bill to ban single-use plastic bags statewide, we can affirm Vermont’s long-held value of our natural environment, to make it cleaner for ourselves and our animal and aquatic friends,” Mrowicki said. “Together, we can show that single-use bags aren’t needed and we can create a cleaner environment not just for today, but for future generations as well.”