LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Local Chapter of Sierra Club Supports Proposed Plastic Bag Reduction Bylaw

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Westford resident Gloria Gilbert submitted the following letter from the chapter director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

The Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club has been actively supporting efforts to curb the use of single-use polyethylene bags at the state and local levels. Bag laws are part of a campaign to reduce unnecessary plastic waste and increase sustainability.

In the last six years, 60 communities across the state have passed local bag laws from Williamstown to Martha’s Vineyard representing almost 2 million residents. Westford residents are estimated to use over 7 million polyethylene shopping bags per year.

There is no excuse for single-use shopping made of petrochemicals derived from non-renewable, fracked natural gas and oil. Furthermore, recycling cannot solve the waste problem, because it is inconvenient, and has resulted in extremely low return rates of only 5 percent.

Bags are usually downcycled into non-recyclable products such as plastic lumber, which relies on the production of even more bags. Eliminating plastic bags from the waste stream will be a significant positive environmental action. Eliminating nonbiodegradable packaging also beautifies the town by reducing the unsightly and permanent litter that thin plastic bags have caused.

As litter, bags are carried into waterways and the Atlantic Ocean, harming wildlife all along the way. Bags eventually become micro-particles which can be ingested by aquatic animals, and enter the human food chain and drinking water. The Massachusetts Sierra Club strongly endorses your proposed bag law. We urge you to support the passage of Article 25 at Town Meeting. — Emily Norton, Massachusetts Sierra Club, Chapter Director; [email protected]