Green Needham’s Plastic Waste Reduction team  has restarted the effort to reduce plastic shopping bag waste in Needham.  In early 2018, the Select Board unanimously approved a policy that requested stores of over 3,500 square feet in size to voluntarily discontinue providing single-use plastic shopping bags to customers.  We were grateful that the stores complied with the policy.  However, over time, some of these large retailers in Needham shifted back to either using the thin single-use plastic bag or began offering the thicker form of bags.

Single-use plastic shopping bags are everywhere, with an estimated one to five trillion consumed around the world every year.  Its popularity is attributed to its versatility.  The bag is strong, waterproof, and lightweight. However, the incredible usage combined with the lack of recycling, with estimates as low as 1%, led to significant pollution. Plastic debris and plastic bags are harming Earth’s natural systems, including the ocean and marine life.  Researchers have found plastic rubbish and particles in all major ocean regions.  Fish and turtles mistake plastic litter and bags as food, and plastic bags spoil marine ecosystems. Closer to home, plastic bags accidentally discarded with bottles and cans at the Needham Transfer Station creates problems for the recycling process. Machines become clogged by the bags, which can force materials bound for recycling to be discarded.

Green Needham is excited to work on an initiative that has two approaches:

  1. Collaborate with the Select Board to update the plastic shopping bag policy in town.  The new policy could mirror what other towns across the state have instituted to successfully cut plastic bag waste.
  2. Create an educational outreach campaign to encourage visitors to Needham stores to shop with their reusable bags.

Green Needham’s Plastic Waste Reduction team is working with the Needham High School Environmental Club as well as other town residents on this initiative.  If you would like to participate or if you have questions, please contact us using the form below.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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