Habits are hard to break, but when it comes to plastic bag use, Westport continues to be ahead of its time.
While dozens of towns across the state have passed or introduced ordinances in recent months that would limit plastic bags, Westport addressed the issue
a decade ago
, becoming the first town east of the Mississippi to enact such a law.
Now, several of the town’s delegation in Hartford solidified Westport’s commitment to being at the forefront of improving Connecticut’s environmental impact.
State Rep. Jonathan Steinburg and political newcomer Sen. Will Haskell, along with Milford’s state Rep. Kim Rose, met last weekend at
Compo Beach to announce
their respective bills to eliminate single-use plastic bags across the state. The legislation would also promote the use of reusable bags and establish fees on paper bags.
Westport’s ability to adopt such a change in a country that uses over
380 billion plastic bags per year
should inspire more municipalities — and the state — to do the same.
“Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than 1 million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris,” according to
The reliance on single-use plastic products, and the incorrect disposal of them, not only endangers the lives of animals, but also pollutes our oceans. With Long Island Sound and beaches being such important parts of the town and Connecticut’s ecosystem, protecting it from harmful plastic pollution should come as a no-brainer.
While local politicians from both parties have come forward in support of this legislation, it’s understandable that residents in cities without such an ordinance may not embrace the idea of a statewide ban.
Getting handed a plastic bag at a retail or supermarket has become so commonplace that banning such a widespread product in favor of reusable bags could be viewed as disruptive. Especially when many also use them to line their trash bins or pick up after their pets.
However, we weren’t always so reliant on the plastic bag as a preferred carrier of groceries and the like.
points out, “Plastic grocery bags were introduced in America in 1979; Kroger and Safeway had picked them up in 1982. But relatively few stores were using them.” It was not until the mid-1980s that plastic bags were offered in about 75 percent of supermarkets.
In a mere 40 years, plastic bags have made their way into arguably every home in the country. But also into the bellies of animals, around the necks of birds, and washed up on shore of our beaches.
It’s a bad habit that will continue to cause collateral damage if not checked, but there is still time to break the cycle.
Connecticut has the chance to follow Westport’s lead to become the second state, after California, to ban single-use plastic bags.
Granted, it won’t be easy, and such a drastic change won’t happen overnight. But like any new habit, it’ll stick with time. And our waters and marine life will thank us that it did.