Plastic menace: Slopers rally to ban the bag

Plastic free: Greenwood resident Jessica Watson traded in a plastic bag for a free reusable bag outside of a Park Slope forum to get people to stop using plastic shopping bags.
Community Newspaper Group / Natalie Musumeci

Park Slope became ground zero of the anti-plastic bag movement on Monday when a coalition of tree-huggers demanded the city ban the ubiquitous delivery paraphernalia.

Several green advocacy organizations kicked off a campaign to pass a new law that would forbid the use of plastic bags by stores during a public forum with Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) at Seventh Avenue’s Greenwood Baptist Church. Dozens of Slopers attended the discussion which highlighted the environmental hazards the bags, which get stuck in trees and clog sewers when they are not disposed of properly, and are believed to take an extremely long time to break down in landfills.

And panelists said its about time the government does something about the plastic menace.

“This is an area where public policy can make a very concrete difference very quickly,” said Lander.

Seattle, San Francisco, and as of this week, Los Angeles have banned the free flimsy plastic bags, and Lander said that this is a trend New Yorkers, who could use more than one billion plastic bags a year, should get behind.

“The cities that have passed these bills have seen 60- and 70- percent reductions in their plastic bag waste,” said the councilman.

An interactive community art piece dubbed the “Plastic Bag Mandala” was set up outside the church and people walking by were asked to pin their bags to the wall in exchange for a free reusable tote bag.

“It was made as a way to engage people in plastic bags,” said creator Gala Narezo. “It’s a method to have a dialog in the community.”

And for some, the technique worked.

“I’m going to start being more conscious of my ways,” said Boro Park resident, Steven Rivera who made the switch.

Lander said he plans to introduce legislation this summer that would dramatically reduce the use of plastic bags in the city through either a fee or tax on their use, or with an outright ban.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Environmentally-friendly: Heather Gaw of Bay Ridge said she would use a reusable bag over a plastic bag any day.
Community Newspaper Group / Natalie Musumeci

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