Little Support for Proposed Plastic Bag Ordinance - 737 Responses

Feb 14, 2015

Though the full extent of the contribution made to global pollution by lightweight plastic bags remains the subject of scientific debate, so called "single use" plastic bags are certainly among the most notorious forms of litter. Concerns over their environmental impact lead Portsmouth City Councilor Brad Lown to propose an ordinance fining the city's larger retailers $100 for handing out single-use plastic bags. On February 14, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked Facebook members to weigh in on the issue. 

In response to the question, "Would you support an ordinance limiting single use plastic bags in your town?", 62% of those directly answering expressed opposition to the ban with 38% in favor. A portion of total commenters (43%) opted not to give a yes or no response, instead addressing their remarks to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 270 specific comments and 467 concurrences for a total of 737 citizen responses. 

Many of those opposed to the proposed ordinance argued that instead of penalizing retailers, consumers should receive incentives for using reusable bags. "I think plastic bag use should be reduced, but a $100 fine is a bit silly. A better way to get folks to use reusable bags is to give a discount for it," one commenter suggested. Some pointed out that calling bags 'single use' was misleading, as they found multiple uses for them before finally recycling them. "Mine always get at least two uses, many time more," a respondent said. Others argued that a tougher ordinance against littering would be a more appropriate response to the problem. "Why not instead just target the offender and be done with all of the nonsense?"

Many of those in favor called for an outright ban instead of Lown's more moderate proposal. "You don't have a right to destroy everyone else's environment," one poster said. "Someone needs to stand up for preserving the pristine and natural beauty of NH," argued another. "It's a reasonable proposal that should go nationwide. I disagree that the city ordinance would hurt retailers because local people aren't going to travel out of town just to do their shopping. They'll adapt and cope," said one commenter. 

Several of those opting to address their comments to broader issues wondered whether plastic bags should really be a primary area of concern for legislators. "People should be more worried about the chemicals the big ships dump in the ocean not plastic bags," one poster said. "If people didn't throw stuff out on the ground and recycled, we wouldn't have a problem," another commenter offered. 

Click here to view the full Facebook thread for this question. 

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