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POLL Findings: Don't Ban Plastic Bags

More than 3 out of 4 voters in a Barrington Patch poll prefer to have a choice of paper, plastic or reusable bags.

More than three out of four voters in a recent Patch poll do not support a ban of plastic grocery and takeout bags in Barrington.

The Town Council plans to unveil an ordinance at its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 10, that proposes to ban the bags. A public hearing on the ordinance will then be held at the Town Council’s Oct. 1 meeting.

A Patch poll ran from Monday, Aug. 27 through Friday, Aug. 31. Thirty-seven readers voted. Voters could only vote once. Almost 80 percent of them said they do not support a ban.

The question was: Should Barrington ban plastic grocery bags?

The actual response was:

·  Yes, recycling still doesn't seem to be working -- 8 votes or 21 percent

·  No, I want a choice of paper or plastic or reusable bags -- 29 votes or 78 percent

Last week’s results are the second time since February that readers indicate they do not favor a ban – and the opposition seems to be growing.

A Patch poll in February accompanied the first story on the proposal for a bag ban by Conservation Commission member Joseph Roberts. That poll asked readers if Barrington should even consider such a ban.

Almost 54 percent of voters opposed the consideration of the idea. About 45 percent said the Barrington Town Council should consider a ban.

The Conservation Commission supports the ban because of concerns over the negative environmental impact of the bags. It is getting support from several environmental groups with the same concerns.

Opponents believe there is a better way to deal with the ubiquitious bags -- recycling them into other plastic products and mulch.

Gary Morse September 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I question the Conservation Commission on this matter. There are many actions in town that could be taken that would have greater impact on environmental issues and our carbon footprint. In my mind, the the biggest environmental disaster is the current town initiative to build out Barrington's remaining open space so as to reach a contrived and debatable affordable housing mandate. This is another enterprise being pushed by councilors Speakman and Weymouth without clear statutory foundations, or without an environmental impact review. But because it is personally something they like, it is being forced upon residents at great environmental cost. Why is the Conservation Commission totally quiet on this pending environmental disaster? Gary Morse
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 01:16 PM
In places where plastic bags have been banned, there was a 77% increase in the purchase of plastic garbage bags. Most people reuse the plastic bags as garbage bags or other things they would purchase plastic bags for anyway. Banning has little or no impact on the environment.
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 01:21 PM
There is plenty of affordable housing already. Walker Farm Developement still has empty houses - and hate to see what will happen over there when the water table rises like last year....
Gary Morse September 04, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Shades - Here are the environmentally disastrous numbers for affordable housing: The current town ordinance requires that for every new development, 2 out of every 10 new homes be counted as being affordable. This makes the 10% affordable mandate elusive since for every 2 affordable homes we add, 8 more are also added to the current total of 6000 making the 10% crossover out at around 10,000 total homes. But then, 30 years from now, the deed restrictions are removed and we begin the process all over again according to the Speakman - Weymouth plan. It is an environmental disaster for the town. Where is the Conservation Commission on this?
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Yes, Gary, it is.... What they need to do is change what "counts" .
Gary Morse September 04, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Changing how the town council is counting affordable homes won't change because they want a specific outcome that favors more development. Town officials only want to recognize 1/2 of the statutory language. The half that shows they are counting the affordable homes improperly is being totally ignored. I suspect it is because the town likes the developer friendly outcomes that residents are now stuck with. My question is: Why isn't the Conservation Commission challenging this, but have taken the time to put a plastic a bag ban on their "to do" list?
John Baron September 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
If you are really concerned about the environment and recycling why not take a look at your friendly less carbon footprint chanting Starbucks? Do you realize that they do NOT recycle ANY of those plastic 1 gallon milk cartons that they go through on a daily basis? They actually DON'T recycle at all...
Ignorance is not bliss September 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
What 1/2 of the affordable housing statute is being ignored?
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 02:30 PM
"They want an outcome that favors more development" you mean for the sake of the developers? Somebody is making money on these...they won't change how it's counted and favor development because there is profit in it...
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Great observation John! That is certainly a more serious environmental threat than plastic bags, since the plastic bags are being reused instead of purchasing plastic garbage bags.
Gary Morse September 04, 2012 at 03:05 PM
bliss - The statutes state that when the Barrington Comprehensive Community Plan is written, there are two RI General Laws that must be recognized: the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act" and the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004". Both Acts were written/amended in 2004 to address the revised affordable housing mandate. The big difference is in how to count an affordable home in town under each of the two Acts. If you talk to our Town Planner, you will find he only wants to recognize the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act" in spite of the fact that the statutes say something different. If you count affordable homes using only the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act", it only counts homes that have a deed restriction and thus the number comes out very low at about 160. But if you count affordable homes using both Acts (i.e. plus the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004"), Barrington has well over 1000 affordable homes already. There has been little in the way of comment from the town as to why they are only recognizing deed restricted homes when the statutes say otherwise. And our town attorney's law firm also represents the affordable developers so that's a problem. The Conservation Commission has been silent on this. I don't know why when this is a huge environmental disaster in the making.
Ignorance is not bliss September 04, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Sowams Nursery is going to be developed as affordable housing. The Planning Board is scheduling a special meeting for pre-application submittal of proposed Sowams Nursery Development.
Gary Morse September 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
The Sowam's project needs a property tax break provided by residents and voted on by the town council in order to be viable. Councilors Speakman and Weymouth are in favor of providing this property tax break paid for by residents (they already voted this in for Sweetbriar in 2008). Thus the irony of this plastic bag matter: Town residents are providing financial incentive to pave over what little open space we have left, and at the same time, vilifying plastic bags. Is anyone on the Conservation Commission getting this?
Shades of Gray September 04, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Start 'recycling' houses.
Ignorance is not bliss September 04, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I think it's time to stop recycling town council members and bring in new!
Andrew Sullivan September 04, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Of course Barrington residents don't want to ban plastic bags. It may inconvenience them. You are talking about people who line their streets with bags and barrels full of yard waste seven days a week so they don't have to handle it on trash pick up day.
Lorraine F September 05, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Andrew, In all my years here, I've never seen anyone put yard waste out in a plastic bag. Nor have I seen anyone put trash out more than once a week on trash day. Are you one of the students at RWU? Because I know they often do that in Bristol in the crash houses in town when the dumpsters start to overflow.
Shades of Gray September 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I've never seen anyone do that either. Leaves are put in paper leaf bags. I don't know what Andrew is talking about. And how wouold the choice of bags 'inconvenience" anyone? Again, people use the plastic bags over again instead of buying plastic bags for other uses. Ban them, and they will only be buying them. It doesn't cut down on usage. It doesn't cut down on waste. And has nothing to do with convenience. ALSO, there are more natural resources USED to PRODUCE paper bags than plastic ones!
Shades of Gray September 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
This is from a website: "reuseit.com" I had to cut some of it out due to character restriction. 1: Energy /natural resources: According to a 2007 study ,it takes almost 4 times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag than a plasic bag .Not only do both paper bags use far more fossil fuel in production and manufacturing, but they also use twenty times as much fresh water vs plastic bags. Additionally, most paper comes from tree pulp, so the impact of paper bag production on forests is enormous. Paper bag production delivers a global warming double-whammy; forests have to be cut down, and then the subsequent manufacturing of bags produces greenhouse gases. However, plastic bags use more fossil fuels and raw materials energy, and consume larger amounts of crude oil and natural gas than paper bags. 2: Pollution:The majority of kraft paper is made by heating wood chips under pressure at high temperatures in a chemical solution. The use of these toxic chemicals contributes to both air pollution, such as acid rain, and water pollution. The same goes for plastic bags. 3: Recycling: Studies indicate it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper. 4: Degradability: Many people choose paper over plastic because they believe it will biodegrade faster than plastic will break down in a landfill. However, there are a number of factors that determine how quickly paper degrades.
Mike Cowan September 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM
This plastic bag ban is seriously BS!!! I am totally against these plastic bag bans because I represent a bag manufacturer that has a SAFE biodegradable additive solution called D2W, which is added to the plastic when the bags are being manufactured, over a few months the bags biodegrade to a SAFE DUST, all it needs is OXYGEN! The other cities that have passed these bans are so foolish and have been brain washed by listening to environmentalists, that only show one-sided data and don’t offer any real solutions such as my biodegradable additive. The environmentalists are always complaining on the one-time use of these regular plastic bags, but if you took a poll, I guarantee that most people reuse these plastic bags in garbage baskets or to pick up dog poo. It blows my mind when government passes these type of laws during a POOR ECONOMY to hurt businesses. Unemployment is at an all-time high and this ban would only add to it. Also what about the thousands of dollars in sales tax that is generated from the plastic bag purchases by all of the large grocery stores, the city councilmen don’t even realize they are hurting their own budgets, they are nuts! If any type of law should be passed on these bags, make the grocery stores only buy plastic bags that are biodegradable, that solves the problem! More on D2W: http://www.degradable.net/products/d2w-plastics/ Food borne illness from the reusable non-woven bags: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv63IKnsj64&feature=youtu.be
Allison September 05, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Agree with an earlier post, Starbucks does not recycle at all! You should see how many plastic gallon milk containers they go through in a day! Not to mention cartons and to go cups??? How can you even consider a plastic bag ban with a straight face with all that plastic not being recycled by starbucks? Where is the conservation department on that issue? Makes it seem like some hidden agenda with the plastic bags. If it were out of concern for the environment the FIRST place you would look at would be Starbucks, come on people.
susancatherine September 09, 2012 at 01:55 AM
“Humans have a tendency to fall prey to the illusion that their economy is at the very center of the universe, forgetting that the biosphere is what ultimately sustains all systems, both man-made and natural. In this sense, ‘environmental issues’ are not about saving the planet—it will always survive and evolve with new combinations of atom—but about the prosperous development of our own species.” —Carl Folke is the science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
Lorraine F September 09, 2012 at 09:39 AM
People who "have" always love to lecture the "have nots" about the illusion of stuff. I still haven't heard a convincing argument on why we should ban plastic bags before we even try recycling at our own recycling center.

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