Where do you stand on the Town Of Manchester’s Plastic Bag Ban?


January 29, 2014

Impact of bag ban? Thin in Manchester

By James NiedzinskiStaff Writer

MANCHESTER — The use of the plastic shopping bag was formally wrapped up when the town’s ban went into effect at the start of the month, and now, weeks later, some say the difference is as thin as the film the bags are made of.

Meanwhile, the Marblehead Board of Health voted last week to bring a similar ban to Marblehead Town Meeting in May. The board cited waste reduction efforts and impacts on the environment as a reason for proposing the ban.

The management of Crosby’s Marketplace is opposing the bid for a bag ban in Marblehead, as it did when Manchester’s ban went before voters, saying the company has made efforts to reduce the use of both paper and plastic bags.

Such a ban only increases the use of paper bags, which also impact the environment, considering the loss of trees and the amount of water used to produce them, said Bob Vello, general manager of the chain which has stores in both towns. Paper bags are more expensive at 10 cents each, he said. Plastic ones are 3 cents.

To read the entire article at The Gloucester Daily Times Website click here

Kudos to James Niedzinski for including the cost difference in the article.  Too often people make environmental decisions without taking into economic factors at all.  I’m not saying that i favor or not favor the decision by the Selectmen and voters in Manchester, I’m just happy that at least some concrete numbers were thrown into the discussion.

I’d love to know the difference in cost between Styrofoam cups and paper cups because I see way more Styrofoam cups blowing around and trapped under brush for years and years compared to plastic bags.  I’ll give my opinion tomorrow.


  • If you have a dog, and don’t have plastic bags from the store, you have to buy them anyway for the dog poop. So Manchester will raise prices in grocery stores to pay for the paper bags, and also have more dog poop on the streets.


  • Ever tried to keep a paper bag dry on a boat? What will you use to line the waste basket with in the bathroom? Keep the plastic but offer paper!


  • Check out (in its entirety) George Carlin’s Arrogance of Mankind video on YouTube. Warning: profanity alert! for those who care.


  • My first thought is that plastic and styrofoam are forever (and not in a good way), but paper breaks down relatively quickly. That said, when I was in Ireland about 9 years ago they had just passed a plastic bag tax. It was small–plastic bags cost 5 to 10 cents each (I don’t remember exactly). But everyone switched to reusable. When I interviewed someone at Enfo (basically Ireland’s environmental protection agency) he told me that leading up to the new tax everyone was freaking out. Then he told me the day it took effect–and ever after–they didn’t hear a peep of complaint. Not one peep. People just adjusted and moved on. They still had access to plastic, but it cost them a tiny bit o’ change. And hey, I didn’t spot one plastic bag stuck in the top of a tree or floating in a harbor in the 5 weeks I spent there.


  • Paper bags are BIODEGRADABLE, plastic bas are not, just as paper cups break down more easily than styrofoam. There’s a great deal of misinformation being put forth by both the paper and plastic industries. I can only say, anecdotally speaking, that everyday I see the ugliness and damage done by plastic bags, tainting every scenic and natural place of beauty on Cape Ann.

    But then again, I do not live next to a paper mill.

    The best choice by far is washable canvas bags and cotton string bags. When I forget my reusable bags, I request paper.


  • ban both. All grocery and stores should do what BJs does you bring your own bags or use the boxes they have in front of the store.
    My son Sal made a trash catcher. When he takes walks along the ocean he uses it to get plastic bags and bottles out of the sea. It’s just some fishing line with a little weight and treble hook.


  • I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think we should do whatever we can to reduce the amount of stuff we throw in the ocean and bury in the ground.. But it is tough. There things like picking up after the dog or lining a wast basket where plastic seems to be the best use. I also think its easy to pack and use the canvas bags at the grocery store. But I dont see an easy solution for lining a basket, or wrapping all the items we consume in something other than plastic. Plastic is great at keeping things dry and fresh. I think this is the golden opportunity for some thinkers and inventors. I think its a good intention to ban the plastic bags. But it is kind of an afterthought and maybe not a solution for everybody.

    When it comes to recycling we put in a good effort at the house. Sometimes I would go too far worrying about it. But then I realized, I really dont see much harm with paper items decomposing in the ground compared to styrafoam, or plastic bags in the ground or the ocean. I guess we’ll need to come up with some solution to replace those things, or get them recycled.


  • http://www.interplas.com/packaging-earth-friendly-recyclable-plastic-bags

    From the article some info. My take. Plastic bags are now biodegradable. It is sometimes not the obvious choice that is the right choice. All I know is that the people who clean up after their dog (probably when someone is looking) only to whip the plastic bag into the woods (likely when no one is looking) is a douche nozzle. I would much rather you leave the dog shit on my lawn. Really. Dog shit is biodegradable and does not carry disease blah blah blah.
    Are plastic bags getting a bad reputation?
    Look in almost any newspaper and more than likely you will find an article about local government that is considering to somehow regulate plastic bags. It is becoming easy to hate the “pitiful” plastic bag!

    Paper vs. Plastic:
    Articles usually leave out the facts as well as the side by side comparison. A truthful look at what is required to produce 1000 plastic bags versus 1000 similar paper bags. If the biased media would present the facts, as discerning people we could make educated and wise decisions.

    If all the shoppers using plastic bags last year had used paper bags instead, they would have increased the amount of solid waste by over 100 million tons and taken up 7 times more space in landfills.


      • I would have to call fake on those cooked data until I saw some real citations of real science. There is nothing intrinsically different from dog shit as compared to everything else out there that shits. In fact dog shit should have far less pathogens because 99% of the dogs on Cape Ann have been to the vet recently and our free of parasites. Salmonella? Shoot, everything has salmonella, just cook the turd to 65 degrees centigrade before eating.

        Woops, I’ll back off the sarcasm. But dog shit filtered through two feet of dirt the same way human waste is filtered carries no inordinate amount of danger. The absolute far more dangerous substance out there being dumped on our lawns (but not mine) on Cape Ann is fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides. That toxic mix screws up bees, butterflies, and the lobsters right off shore. Any self respecting lobster would eat my dog’s turd and be better for it. Not so much the poisons we are drenching our lawns with to the rate of twice as much in tonnage compared to all the tilled farms in the United States.


  • I definitely go for plastic, and reuse them. They go in my bathroom wastebaskets, in the freezer to store garbage scraps until trash day, and get used for soiled kitty litter and kitty poop, and then go into the trash. You’d never find one of my plastic bags floating in the ocean, and paper bags while biodegradable, would not work well and result in destruction of trees. Both come with their problems, but give me my plastic bags.


  • Reusing plastic bags as has been mentioned helps a lot. Without that we all buy more of different plastic bags, so what’s the difference at that point? I believe this is a feel good initiative that certainly is well intentioned but taken by itself is meaningless to the real world.Wish there were other stronger measures that could be taken and seriously make a difference.


  • Anyone who spends anytime on the water or at the beach has seen the problem with plastic bags. Even when people carefully throw their plastic in the trash lots of them escape into the environment and they still last forever. Ask Karen Ristuben about the massive plastic gyre in the middle of the Pacific sometime.
    The argument that we should have plastic bags everywhere in order to provide dog owners with (seemingly) free poop bags just doesn’t cut it. There are alternatives such as waxed paper that work just as well and don’t kill wildlife.
    Make people pay a nickel or a dime for their grocery bags and they’ll switch to reusables quickly enough, or credit them the same like Trader Joe’s does to encourage them to bring their own cloth bags.
    It makes me sad to see how many people won’t give up a minor convenience to get rid of this unsustainable practice.


    • What Greg said. I would only add that the supermarkets could do one small thing that would help us old farts out who have too much on our minds.

      A big sign that you can see from the parking lot at the market. “HEY, GO BACK TO YOUR CAR AND GET YOUR BAGS!”

      A twofer would be writing on the back of the sign ,”Thanks for shopping, did you remember the wine?”


  • Maybe a solution here? Welcome to Stone Age paper!

    A friend gave me a paper note book-Journal yesterday made in a different manner for a University of Phoenix® Military Division. Below is the back ground on how made:

    This journal is 100% tree-free. It paper is made from pulverized construction rock combined a small amount of nontoxic resin. The result is silky-smooth paper that’s antibacterial, 100% biodegradable, tear-resistant, and water resistant.

    The process of making stone paper uses no water or trees, requires less energy than making regular paper, and produces significantly less air pollution and solid waste. Enjoy you new journal all the more, knowing how environmentally smart it is.


  • I really don’t have a dog in this fight. But to throw another kink in this discussion, I wonder what percentage of grocery bags are, right now, plastic, and what percentage are paper. My guess would be that 98% of bagged groceries are carried out of the store in plastic. I haven’t seen anyone use paper in ages, at least where I live. (BTW, I use my own recycled plastic fabric bags.) So, what would we expect at the beach? 98% plastic! Not exactly a ringing endorsement of paper as an alternative, but simply an explanation of why we see so much plastic. It’s the percentage, folks, and not that paper so efficiently evaporates on contact with water or sunlight.


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