To the Editor:

I generally support the efforts of Wilton Go Green (WGG) but I don’t think a plastic bag ban in Wilton should be on their To-Propose list. In response to the article in GOOD Morning Wilton, selectwoman Lori Bufano is absolutely on the right track when she says the state is banning single use plastic bags 17 months from now so to me, WGG’s efforts are duplicative. But the best item to come out of the GOOD Morning Wilton article is First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice‘s suggestion that WGG should “cover what conversations they’ve had with Wilton business and who would be impacted.” To that point, I’d like to ask that in preparation of a future ban pitch to town officials, the WGG inquires about the following and along the way get BOTH sides of the ban/no ban documented:

  • Subway sells 7.6 million subs per day so that means about 175 for each of the 44,000 locations including the 1 in Wilton. Instead of a ban, how receptive was the local Subway owner to WGG’s suggestion to simply stop putting a sub in a bag and maybe have employees say, “Mrs. Customer, we are trying to reduce our use of plastic and prefer to not put your sub and napkin in a bag–are you cool with that or do you really need a bag?” No ban–just remind the owner to work on skipping bags or, god forbid, give the customer a choice.
  • Lay off the Styrofoam ban. Which Wilton businesses did WGG audit to determine the scale of this problem? How many units of styrofoam are being distributed daily in Wilton? I get the impression WGG is chasing the .01% of a perceived problem, especially since Dunkin’ Donuts bailed on Styrofoam. What did WGG find out on the latest from Tusk and Cup?
  • How about Wilton Skips The Staw (Ban)? As with the Subway scenario above, what was SoBol’s, Starbucks’ and other businesses’ response to WGG’s suggestion that smoothie sellers, coffee shops and restaurants take it upon themselves to not proactively include a straw? No ban, just some education and reminding from WGG.
  • I told Hunan Café, “Thanks, but I’m good without the paper and plastic bag combo for my take out.” What was Hunan Café’s response to WGG’s suggestion that, like the Subway scenario, they too take it upon themselves to not include double or single bags for takeout? No ban, just common sense.
  • Can Village Market go rogue and hide the plastic produce bags for a day or two? I don’t think it would be ‘Armageddon in The Aisles’ but would be curious to hear what WGG found out about that suggestion. No ban, just demo a what-if.
  • The devil is in the details so under a ban scenario, the WGG needs to present a project plan accompanied by a Gantt chart including tasks, deliverables (and who is responsible) and timing. I say skip any unfunded mandates until there is a very clear picture about costs of what the WGG proposes to implement AND enforce said bans.

Am I the only one suffering from ‘Ban Fatigue’? It seems like the green movement is, “Ban this, ban that, then ban some more.” Don’t get me wrong, I work to be a responsible earthling as best as I can and ride my bicycle to work but can Wilton maybe Ban the Bans? I think we need to let the businesses decide and above all, Wilton consumers decide and not the government.

Kevin Kane

3 replies on “Letter: When it Comes to Bag Bans, “Ban the Bans””

  1. I find myself embarrassingly emotional about this issue, precisely (and ironically) because it feels like emotional policy making as well as a bit of commercial opportunism.

    I find myself mumbling as I shop these days at how convenient it was to decide to charge for paper bags as well as plastic at the Village Market and at Stop and Shop, under the pretense of environmental accountability. I am an old Lefty and Tree Hugger to boot, and will err on the side of sending a message when a policy is debatable. Surely it helps to raise the consciousness of all us litter-bugs, but the better carbon footprint of flimsy plastic compared to paper bags and to cotton re-usable bags is questionable enough to make me roll my eyes when local businesses suddenly find it is important to “help” in ways that really help themselves. Now get off my lawn.

  2. This letter and the response above boil down an awful lot of what needs to be thought through in environmentalism today. Full life-cycle analysis of different products to determine their real carbon footprint vs the emotional satisfaction of actions that may not do that much. Plus the stick of ban after ban instead of the carrot of better alternatives. Finally, despite the appeal of “10 little things you can do to reduce global warming” the little things aren’t going to save the planet. The big three are: have fewer children; live in a city; be vegetarian. That’s where the real gains are and those things aren’t easy.

  3. Maybe the way to think about this is what happens when we are no longer able to ship all the trash and debris out of town or worse not being able to dump it on the roadside.

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