South Hadley plastic bag ban to start Sunday

  • South Hadley on Sunday will join Adams, Amherst, Ashland, Northampton, Williamstown and 73 other towns across the state in banning plastic bags. Creative Commons/velkr0

Staff Writer
Published: 6/29/2018 11:44:43 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — As of Sunday, plastic bags will no longer be an option for retail shoppers checking their groceries out.

Stores will only be able to use reusable, biodegradable, paper, or compostable bags now that the town’s bylaw banning plastic bags takes into effect on July 1. Exceptions for the regulation include bags used to contain dry cleaning, newspapers, produce, meat, bulk foods, or transparent covering for raw meat, baked goods, and other similar products. 

The measure was approved by voters at the April 2017 town election, by a vote of 921 in favor and 552 against, thereby joining Adams, Amherst, Ashland, Northampton, Williamstown and 73 other towns across the state in banning plastic bags.

“It’s the right thing to do; people are clearly in favor of it,” Select Board Chairman Ira Brezinsky said. “In some communities where these bans were put in place they decided to do it very quickly. We chose to take a longer road and gave businesses a long time to prepare for it.”

He said the more people can bring reusable bags when shopping at the grocery store, the more effective this initiative will be.

“Just like we don’t want to fill our landfills and streams with plastic bags, paper bags are also not a particularly green option,” Brezinsky said. “Reusable bags are better than paper.”

At the Big Y on Willimansett Street, preparations are underway: Employees are informing customers about the ban and letting them know that it will be taking place over the weekend, according to store manager Jim LaConte.

“We’ve been preparing for a while now,” LaConte said. “So far it’s been positive: Our managers fully accept it, Big Y believes in supporting the community and we want to support the town.” 

He said that they have also been trying to encourage customers to use reusable bags instead of paper bags to be more environmentally friendly. In the week leading up to the plastic bag ban taking effect, they sold reusable bags at a discounted rate of two for one.

The Mass Green Network, an organization dedicated to reducing plastic waste in the state, contends that banning plastic bags in stores is necessary due to the harm caused by tiny plastic particles to the environment.

According to their fact sheet, plastic bags can be mistaken as food by both domesticated and wild animals.

They say plastic bags choke, strangle, and entangle turtles, whales, sea lions, seals, birds and fish, among other species.

Additionally, plastic bags are a major litter problem, citing the Los Angeles as having plastic bags account for 25 percent of their litter in storm drains, according to the Mass Green Network. 

As for South Hadley, Brezinsky hopes to see residents being conscientious about their choice of grocery bag. 

“The more people can bring their own reusable bags, the more we will actually be able to achieve our goal of being greener and more environmentally sensitive,” Brezinsky said. 

Luis Fieldman can be reached at 

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