Darien begins considering plastic bag ban
Published 4:25 pm, Thursday, April 14, 2011
Darien has begun turning an eye towards greener practices after listening to a presentation proposing the banning of plastic bags within the community.
Choose to Reuse in Darien is a local group dedicated to reusing bags in everyday life and eliminating disposable bags. Monday night's presentation to the Board of Selectmen was only the first step in a potential ban of plastic bags.
Nina Miller, one of the group founders, said the only way to get people to change their habits is to make it mandatory that plastic bags not be used.
Chamber of Commerce President Carol Wilder-Tamme said a survey was conducted to gauge the impact on local businesses. The survey results found that most businesses were open to the idea. The only concern was a lack of time to use the existing stock of bags and inform customers plastic bags would no longer be available.
"Businesses suggested the public education should be done by an outside group," Wilder-Tamme said.
"Basically, Terrie was interested in the people who were buying and using the bags and how they felt about a possible ban," Wilder-Tamme said.
Although Darien doesn't have a ban on plastic bags, many local businesses choose not to use them.
"Many of the businesses that don't use plastic bags are retailers," Wilder-Tamme said. "They just don't want that look with their product."
More open-mindedness towards environmental practices may also be contributing to people's willingness to eliminate plastic bags, Wilder-Tamme said.
Westport successfully banned the use of plastic bags in the town after months of deliberation on the topic.
"We spent some time doing the research and decided it was the type of thing we wanted to do," Cunitz said. "Westport's ordinance is far more reaching than any other ordinance in the country."
As Cunitz and other District 4 RTM members worked on drafting the ordinance, they met with businesses to discuss any potential problems. Cunitz said the original draft of the ordinance was modified to include an exemption for produce bags and laundry bags.
"When we first started out we didn't include any language about penalties or fines," Cunitz said. "However, we found out that the ordinance would be more of a feel-good type of ordinance without any penalties."
The penalty for violating the ban is a $150 fine for the first offense and an additional $150 for each day after four days of the initial citation that the violation is not fixed, according to the ordinance.
After the ordinance was passed in September 2009, there was a six-month grace period before the ordinance went into effect so the town could educate businesses about alternative methods to plastic, Cunitz said.
Cunitz said residents and businesses are still happy that a ban was put in place.
For more information about Choose to Reuse in Darien log onto www.choosetoreuseindarien.org.