Environmental group follows other towns’ blueprints to ban plastic bags
DARIEN — A decade after Westport’s plastic bag ban, an environmental group in town works to see a similar ordinance is finally brought to fruition.
BYO (Bring Your Own) Darien is a group following the trend of towns in the area to implement a plastic bag ban. Lucia Zachowksi, co-chair of BYO Darien, said since their first meeting with the Board of Selectmen the group has felt reassured on two key parts of their proposed ordinance.
First, a fee for recycled paper bags is imperative. The fee would help to level the playing field between big chains and small local businesses.
“That information we got from the retailers themselves in town,” she said.
The next important part is to phase out the use of plastic checkout bags that are less than 12 mil in thickness. To put into comparison the average grocery store bag is normally less than 2.25 mil in thickness. This means the plastic bags still allowed would be much thicker and be able to be re-used multiple times.
“We have already made several presentations to different groups in town,” said BYO Darien Co-Chair Lucia Zachowski.
The group, which started in May, has also met with over 100 businesses in town to see how the new initiative would be received. So far the group hasn’t faced much pushback, Zachowski said.
“Our approach to this has been to make this as all-inclusive in the town as possible,” she said.
In 2012 there was a similar initiative. However, the 2012 proposal failed by a narrow margin of 46 -36.
“We’ve decided to revisit this problem because there’s an enormous amount of single-use plastic waste in town,” Zachowski said.
Stamford recently passed their own ordinance and Greenwich’s law just came into effect in September. Both town’s ordinance was reviewed by BYO Darien to find a proper way to make their own a reality.
Westport passed a law eliminating plastic check-out bags in 2008 and is another ordinance BYO Darien looks to structure there’s from. Elizabeth Milwe, a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting at the time, said the movement in Westport was similarly a grassroots movement.
“We really went out and tried to reach everyone and take all their questions,” Milwe said.
To her, there are three ways to get a change - grassroots, working with government officials and through media.
“When you get those three parts together something can happen,” Milwe said.
A decade later and now 11 towns have followed Westport’s lead. BYO Darien hopes that Darien as a shoreline community similar to Westport will be ready to embrace the initiative.
Zachowski said the process to achieve their goal will be long, but they are hopeful they’ll get their ordinance through the governmental process. By early Spring they hope to have their final proposal in front of the full Representative Town Meeting. Though some changes are to still be made,
“We’ve been working with people in Greenwich, Westport, and Stamford,” she said. “We looked at what worked in Westport and we added what was the best parts and have a draft that is a really good document.”
BYO Darien will meet with the board of selectmen again on Oct. 30.