Editorial: Plastic bags: Lagging behind

Posted 3/1/19

Portsmouth has banned single use plastic bags, as have Dartmouth, Bristol, Middletown, Newport, Boston and bunches of other towns all around. Barrington one-upped them all a few weeks ago when it …

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Editorial: Plastic bags: Lagging behind

Posted

Portsmouth has banned single use plastic bags, as have Dartmouth, Bristol, Middletown, Newport, Boston and bunches of other towns all around. Barrington one-upped them all a few weeks ago when it added polystyrene plastics, the stuff of foam coffee cups, to the plastic bag ban it declared quite a while ago.

All of which ought to make community leaders and shoppers in Tiverton and Westport feel a bit sheepish.

The group Sustainable Sakonnet proposed such a ban for Tiverton but the Town Council wanted none of it some months ago. Westport has talked about it a bit but is holding off until it gets more information of some sort or other.

As it turns out, life is going on just fine in the places that have banned these bags. Given a week or two, people adjust remarkably well with paper or reusable bags, businesses don’t collapse, people hardly remember what the fuss was all about.

For those who call for more study, evidence of the harm done by these bags is not hard to find. They festoon tree limbs and bushes after big winds like Monday’s, they clog our landfills, and they foul our beaches and oceans, killing turtles and other creatures. That last ought to be of special interest to these seaside towns.

Statewide bans may be coming but taking the local lead ought to be a matter of pride. We all talk a good game about doing our part to help the environment — how sad if going without these flimsy bags is too much to ask.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.