Ecoin, Middletown’s Environmental Collective Impact Network, has embraced an initiative, led by the Middletown Garden Club and former Middletown Mayor Maria Madsen Holzberg, to develop and propose a City ordinance to reduce or eliminate free single-use plastic checkout bags handed out by local retailers.
According to the film Plastic Ocean, 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year. Plastics not only contribute to unsightly litter that is a danger for birds and marine life, but they release toxins as they break down. Micro-particles of plastic end up in the muscle tissue of fish eaten by humans. Clearly, as a species we need to find our way to doing less damage to the biological systems we depend on, and that includes using and discarding less plastic.
Reducing our consumption of single-use plastic items — shopping bags, straws, drink containers, utensils, etc. — is something we can all do. But we need some “carrots and sticks” (incentives and regulations) from society as a whole to help us change our ways.
Similar ordinances regarding plastic bags have been adopted by cities and towns elsewhere in Connecticut and beyond. Such bags pollute the environment not only when they are discarded into a stream or get blown into trees and fields. They also consume fossil fuels in the manufacturing process and add to the waste stream that is burned, contributing to toxic air pollution.
Ecoin will discuss progress on the ordinance at its meeting on January 7, 5-6 p.m. in the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street. All members of the pubic are welcome and invited to attend Ecoin meetings.
In the meantime, we can all train ourselves to use heavier, multiple-use canvas or vinyl shopping bags. That means keeping our shopping bags handy and remembering to bring them with us as we enter the store.