The Easton Town Council unanimously passed a new law prohibiting retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter. The vote brought to the end a long process of public hearings and workshops that took place since the idea was mooted by members of Plastic-Free Easton back in March. Council members discussed their support of the bill, finally passing it 5-0 to happy smiles and applause. This was an achievement on reducing an important source of plastics pollution in Easton guided by Council President Megan Cook. The law is a result of an positive collaboration between town leaders and residents.
In his message supporting the new law Ward 2 Council member Don Abbatiello noted, “The overall goal is to reduce the amount of plastic trash in our community and our waterways. Every piece of plastic that was ever produced but not incinerated is still with us today. If the Puritans invented plastic, it would still be here.” Mr. Abbatiello said when the president of the Talbot Watermen Association spoke in favor of a ban, “We were all listening. The Tred Avon, the Miles, and the Choptank all have part of their headwaters in Easton. The ban will help to improve the bay.” He also said that unlike plastics used in life-saving medical applications, “plastic bags are a convenience, not essential.”
Ward 4 Council member Rev. Elmer Davis urged residents to consider how our lifestyles might do harm to our environment and advised residents “do good and not cause harm to our community.”
The new law not only bans single-use plastic bags at checkout, but also requires retailers to charge 10 cents for paper bags. Retailers keep the fee to help defray the added cost of paper bags. The combination of plastic bag ban and fee on paper bags helps move consumers towards bringing in their own reusable bags. The law goes into effect April 2, 2023.
Marion O Arnold is leader of the Plastic-Free Easton action committee. She lives in Easton, MD.