A group of Saratoga Springs-area residents are circulating a petition urging the City Council to ban disposable plastic bags in stores and markets in the city.
Nearly 400 people have signed the petition at SignOn.org in less than a week, said organizer Alex Chaucer.
Chaucer, a technology instructor at Skidmore College, said Monday that entire countries have banned or taxed the use of the common plastic bag like the ones used at supermarkets.
“We are just talking about the basic plastic supermarket bags,” Chaucer said. He said produce bags and heavier, larger plastic bags would not be part of the proposed bag ban.
“Say no to disposable consumer culture. I support the effort to reduce plastic bag usage and waste in Saratoga Springs, NY,” says the SignOn.org petition.
The petition notes that “on average plastic bags are used for 12 minutes, yet they will stick around for thousands of years as trash, polluting our waterways and harming animals.”
“It’s time to bring your own bag, Saratoga,” the petition said.
The alternative to the plastic bag is for consumers to bring their own fabric grocery bags to the market with them and use them to carry home their groceries.
San Francisco enacted the nation’s first plastic bag ban in 2007 with Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Aspen, Colo., and Hawaii following suit in recent years.
Chaucer said Rye in Westchester County adopted a plastic bag ban modeled after one enacted in Westport, Conn., the first such ban on the East Coast. Many West Coast cities have banned the use of the plastic bags.
He said Ireland bans or taxes such bags and in Washington, D.C., people must pay for their plastic bags, if they want them, and the money goes for the environmental cleanup of a river. He said plastic bags are banned in China and some African nations.
Last week, securing a plastic bag ban became a project of Sustainable Saratoga, a nonprofit, grass-roots organization that seeks to protect the environment for future generations, Chaucer said. A core group of about 10 local residents has been meeting in recent months to discuss the attempt to ban plastic bags.
“I’ve been involved with this since this summer,” he said.
Chaucer said he and others have met with Saratoga Springs City Council members and Mayor Scott Johnson regarding the issue.
“The outpouring has been amazing. As it keeps growing, it becomes more and more powerful,” Chaucer said about the petition drive that was nearing the 400 signature mark by Monday evening.
The plastic bag ban group wants to hold some public awareness events, including showing a documentary film and having a panel discussion about plastic bags and the environment.
“We also want to engage with local businesses,” Chaucer said.
The city of Austin, Texas, became the latest city to ban the disposable plastic bags last week.
Some shoppers in Austin were still angry that they had to either bring their own bags or pay for thicker plastic or paper bags in shops, The Associated Press reported. But Austin Resources Recovery, the city’s trash and recycling department, launched an $850,000 advertising campaign and offered free training for businesses to make a smooth transition to banning disposable plastic bags.