Opinion

Rockland residents, businesses back proposed plastic bag, polystyrene container amendment

Posted:  Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 7:00pm
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To the Rockland community: We write to show our strong support for Rockland’s proposed single-use bag ordinance, which incentivizes the use of reusable bags via a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers, and a small fee on paper bags. We are thrilled that this policy demonstrates the high value that Rockland places on our collective health and the health and beauty of the oceans, animals, and all the places where plastic bags and styrofoam often collect. Similar ordinances have been shown to have significant positive environmental impact and are an effective step that we can take in regard to climate change and environmental protection: reducing waste, reducing plastics in our environment, and reducing our carbon footprint.

An October 2015 Portland Press Herald article estimated that every human being in the United States uses 360 plastic bags a year, with “almost 479 million bags used annually in Maine alone.” But policies can help reduce this wasteful consumption. Six months after Portland instituted a fee on single-use bags, The Portland Press Herald reported that Hannaford had seen a dramatic increase in customers using reusable bags — rising from “about 10 percent” before the ordinance to “more than 80 percent.” A study published in November 2012 found that San Jose, California’s plastic bag ban with a ten-cent paper bag charge led to an 89 percent reduction in the number of plastic bags winding up in the city's storm drains. In addition, the city found a 59-60 percent reduction of plastic bags in creeks, rivers, city streets and neighborhoods.

Some people in Rockland are suggesting that the fee-for-paper-bag policy should only apply to the larger stores in town. However, we feel strongly that the fee on paper bags at stores should be applied city-wide. This policy will work best when applied equally. It reduces confusion and creates clarity. It also equalizes the playing field — why should someone buying bread at Hannaford pay 10 cents for a bag (and, hopefully, be incentivized to bring a reusable bag) but not when shopping downtown?

Locals and tourists will come to Rockland, and shop here, with or without a fee on bags. Fears of a drop in sales are unfounded. In fact, no credible studies have shown a reduction in sales after similar policies were passed. As a city, we can choose to impress visitors with our commitment to our environment — and do our small part to influence everyone’s thinking and habits. And with these ordinances becoming more and more common, visitors will come to see them as the norm. We should take action as a whole community — downtown businesses included — to send a strong, positive message to our residents, children, and visitors about the values that we share as a whole community.

There is one addition that we would suggest: as some other towns have done, Rockland should waive the bag fee for those who are using WIC or SNAP for groceries if they have forgotten their reusable bag. The purpose of the ordinance is to change our habits, which can still be effective but need not burden our most financially challenged residents.

We are Rockland residents, business owners, organizations, workers, visitors and shoppers, and we will be proud to see Rockland join many other Maine towns and cities in taking steps towards the protection of the environment and our own health.

(To add your name, business or organization to this letter which will be shared with the Rockland City Council,  email your name and town to redbexxa@gmail.com. We hope you can make it to the Rockland City Council meeting on Monday, March 12 at 6 p.m., where the council will vote on this ordinance.)

Sincerely,

INDIVIDUALS:

Alan Athearn, Rockland

Norma Athearn, Rockland

Debby Atwell, Rockland

Joe Auciello, Rockland

Chelsea Avirett, Rockland

Polly Armstrong, South Thomaston

Sarah Baldwin, South Thomaston; Owner, Bella Luna Toys, Rockland

Lynne Barnard, Rockland

Hannah Barrows, Rockland

Sarah Bartz, Rockland

Trisha Badger, Jefferson

Thia Belajonas, Thomaston

Annie Bailey, Tenants Harbor

Joao Bentes, Searsport; Student at The Apprenticeshop, Rockland

Kim Bernard, Rockland

Callie Black, Rockland

Elissa Bower, Hope; Works in Rockland

Bridget Buck, Rockland

Christos Calivas, Rockland

Steve Cartwright, Tenants Harbor

Monica Chau, Rockland

David Clough, Rockland

Laurence Anne Coe, Rockland

Diana Coleman, Rockland

Joel Cooke, Rockland

Dana Crane, Rockland

Chris Curro, Rockland

Judith M. Daniels, Rockland

Nathan Davis, Rockland

Benjamin Dorr, Rockland

Heather Ellsworth, Warren

Connie Evans, Rockland

Hannah Faesy, Rockland

Peyton Elise Feener, Rockland

Isabella Feracci, Rockland

Martin Feracci, Rockland

Amy Files, Rockland

Kathryn Fogg Hill, Rockland

Aaron Freeman, Rockland

Jesse Gillespie, Rockland

Becca Shaw Glaser, Rockland

Joe Godfrey, South Thomaston

Jackson Gregory, Vinalhaven

Byron Greatorex, Camden                       

David C. Hamann, Rockland

Connie Hayes, Rockland

Alanna Hernandez, Rockland
Antonio Hernandez, Rockland

Sarah Higdon-Sudow, Rockland

Ron Huber, Rockland

Casey Hufnagel, South Thomaston

Teisha Hufnagel, South Thomaston

Susan Hunt, Rockland

Michael Irvin, Rockland

Ken James, Cushing

Karen Jackson, Rockland

Liz Jenkins, Warren

Anna Jennings, Rockland

James Keller, Rockland

Donald B. Johnson, Rockland

Brian Keuneke, Rockland

Amanda LaBelle, Rockland

Lydia Langston, Cushing; Business in Rockland

Jo Lindsay, Tenants Harbor; Works in Rockland

Annie Mahoney, Rockland

Lynne Manning, Rockland

Angela McIntyre, Rockland

Donna McNeil, Rockland

Lisa Millette, Rockland

Senator Dave Miramant, Camden; Maine Senate District 12

Barbara S. Mogel, Rockland

Ralph Moore, Rockland

Abi Morrison, Rockland

Rachel Nixon, Camden; Business in Rockland

Nina Noah, Rockland

Brystle Noble, Thomaston

Rhonda Nordstrom, South Thomaston

Jeff Oehlert, Rockland

Matthew Ondra, Rockland

Leah Ondra, Rockland

Martha Page, Warren

Vince Papsidero, Rockland

Dee Peppe, Rockland

Kat Pound, LMT, Rockport; Business in Rockland

Vas Prabhu, Rockland

Anna Queen, Rockland

Daniel Quintanilla, Rockland

Brian Reid, Rockland

Elysa Rose-Coster, Rockland

Bobby Schneider, Rockland

Richard Schneller, Rockland

Scott Sell, Rockland

Emily Seymour, Rockland

Alexander Shaw, Rockland

Mike Shunney, Rockland

Cody Smith, Rockland

Asha Stager, Rockland

Kyle Swan, Rockland

Sarah Szwajkos, Camden, Rockland property owner

George Terrien, Rockland

Erin Tokarz, Rockland

Jill Valliere, Rockland

Marcel Valliere, Rockland

Jesse Watson, Rockland

Claire T. Weinberg, Rockland

Andy White, Union

Rose Wilson, Rockland

Susan Wind, Rockland

Brooks Winner, Rockland

Julie Winzler, Thomaston

Hannah Woodman, Rockland

Joan Wright, Rockland

Rachel Zheng, Rockport

 

BUSINESSES:

ADW Maker, Thomaston

Archipelago, Rockland

Atlantic Baking Company, Rockland

Bella Luna Toys, Rockland

Brystle Noble’s Fitness, Rockland

Clementine, Rockland

Coastal Maine Photo Tours, Rockland

Curator, Rockland

The Dancing Elephant, Rockland

Dulse & Rugosa, Rockland

Efex USA, Rockland

Good Tern Natural Foods CO-OP & Cafe, Rockland

Inner Works Healing Arts Center, Rockland

Maine Country Home, Rockland

Midcoast Permaculture Design, Rockland

Mid-Co-Lab, Thomaston

Periscope, Rockland

RHEAL Day Spa, Rockland

Sarah Szwajkos Photography | Damn Rabbit Studios, Rockland

SeaMoss Weekly Tourist Rental

Steel House, Rockland

Trillium Soaps, Rockland

Two Harbors Studio, Rockland

Valliere Design Studio, Rockland

wilderbydesign, Rockland

 

ORGANIZATIONS:

The Apprenticeshop

First Universalist Church in Rockland (UUR)

Friends of Penobscot Bay

Georges River Land Trust

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Renew Rockland

World Ocean Observatory