To the editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Councilman Sweeney for his courage in organizing the Town Hall workshop last night (Feb 20th) regarding a possible thin film plastic check out bag ban ordinance. Councilman Sweeney showed true leadership bringing a topic of debate to the chambers of the Bristol Town Hall. Also, thank you to the other councilors that took the time to consider this important issue. The topic spurred great discussion and debate over how a town or society should or should not respond to the issue of plastic bags in our environment. I personally enjoyed the discussion and listening to the many citizens who stood up to offer their thoughts, concerns, questions, and opinions on the subject. I was also impressed by the number of people that took the time to drive in from other areas of the state, such as Providence and Newport to offer their support and thoughts despite waiting for almost three hours as the plastic bag ordinance was the last portion of the workshop.
I think it’s safe to say almost everyone in the room felt plastic in the environment is a problem and a major one; however there was much divide on HOW to deal with the problem.
So what do we do about this? Do we take the approach of sit and wait for the State to make a ruling? Or perhaps do we take some action and say “Not in our backyard”? Many great suggestions were raised in the discussion, such as more community outreach and education, and even expansion of the current plastic bag recycling program. Much of the majority opposition seemed to stem from a non-legislation perspective deeming this issue not suitable or appropriate for legislation. Why not? Governments and leaders around the world legislate all the time on matters such as public safety, the well being of our schools and children, and even on environmental issues. Should our leaders not have passed in to our town legislation a noise ordinance? How about cross walks, speed limits, and stop signs? Consider this, do we want to teach our children that the well being of our environment or environmental responsibility as a whole does not deserve legislation? Take a look around the United States and the World. If one of our largest cities (Los Angeles 2nd) in the USA felt it was worth doing, it must certainly be worth legislation. In fact 65 cities and counties in California alone have adopted ordinances along with other major cities such as Seattle and entire states such as Hawaii. If these major cities and states feel it’s worth legislation perhaps Rhode Island or Bristol with some of the most pristine coastlines and seafood in the world should consider it as well.
Ethan M Tucker
34 Thames St.
Mr. Tucker is the chairman of the Bristol Economic Development Commission