Students Help Pass Plastic Bag Ban at Monday RTM

On Monday evening, an enthusiastic group of GHS students attended the Representative town meeting to support the proposed ban on plastic bags with a 23-cent fee on paper bags in Greenwich retail stores.

“Engagement in politics is really important and I’m proud of the GHS students who came out today,” said Rene Jameson, president of the Roots and Shoots Club.

In drafting this initiative, started by the Greenwich-based Bring Your Own (BYO) organization, lawmakers hand-picked the most effective provisions from legislation of other towns that have banned plastic bags, such as Westport, causing the process to take 3,000 hours, according to BYO.

Around 30 GHS students, many from the Environmental Action and Roots and Shoots Club, shared their voices; gathered around the podium as a united group, they displayed their support for the bag ban and engagement in local politics. Three students speakers- Rene Jameson, Valerie Cella, and Jenna Pastore- discussed the pollution and waste that plastic bags generate at Tod’s point and in Greenwich’s streets, emphasizing the need for a law that would change citizens’ attitudes.

The discussion persisted for over two hours. A sunset motion, an amendment that would make the law expire after 3 years, was passed. Representatives also proposed a change to diminish the 23 cents fee on paper bags to 10 cents, and District 11 suggested having no fee at all. The amendment proved controversial; legislators opposing the fee deemed it “punitive” and difficult for families of lower income to pay. Supporters stressed the incentive it would give to switch from plastic and paper to reusable bags. GHS students expressed their support for the fee, which they viewed as a driving factor in bringing change. But, the fee on paper bags was removed.

But at the end of the day, the GHS group reached the broader goal; with a vote of 141 in favor and 54 opposing, the plastic bag ban was passed. “I hope that this will be the first step in big change,” said Mia Giselle Binuya, president of the Environmental Action Club.

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