Green Decade Newton supports the passage of the proposed Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, on which the Board of Aldermen may vote at their meeting tonight (at a late hour) or at their next Board meeting.

Residents who wish to send an email to the Clerk of the Board to forward to all the members of the Board of Aldermen may contact David Olson at:  

Read Plastic Bag Ordinance FAQs by Alderman Alison Leary Mooradian HERE.

Below is an open letter to members of the Newton Board of Aldermen from Marcia Cooper, President of Green Decade Newton.

Dear Honorable Members of Newton’s Board of Aldermen,

On behalf of the Green Decade Newton, I urge you to support Item #254-12(2) an ordinance to reduce plastic bags at certain retail establishments in Newton.

Plastic bags have a huge negative effect on our environment. Millions of animals are killed or mutilated by ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic bags every year. Even when properly disposed of, they are so aerodynamic that they frequently blow away and become litter. Plastic bags do not biodegrade; instead they slowly fragment into tiny bits that can then contaminate soil, waterways, and our oceans. These small bits, known as micro-plastics, displace food supplies and threaten the survival of a broad range of sea life.

Many communities have instituted bans or fees to reduce plastic bag use, and this approach has shown great success with dramatic reductions in plastic bag litter. In Massachusetts, eight communities have now passed bans; Brookline, Great Barrington, Nantucket (in 1990!), Newburyport, Manchester, Marblehead, Falmouth and Provincetown. Nationally hundreds of communities have passed bans including the entire states of California and Hawaii.

Newton currently does not recycle plastic bags. Consumers must bring them back to the store for recycling. Unfortunately, these voluntary programs still leave billions of bags to end up in the waste stream as litter. This effort is aimed at working with consumers and retailers to encourage the use of re-usable bags, not to switch to paper bags, which also have environmental costs to produce. But paper biodegrades and is easily recycled, and it is not made from fossil fuels.

The average American uses almost one plastic bag per person per day. To quote Clint Richmond representing the Sierra Club of MA: “The Brookline plastic bag ban is estimated to be saving 1 million plastic bags per month — that is an immediate environmental benefit.” I urge the Newton Board of Aldermen to support the proposed Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance.


Marcia Cooper

President, Green Decade Newton