Oak Bluffs’ turn for the bag ban vote

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To the Editor:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer some information about Articles 44 and 45 on this April’s Oak Bluffs annual town meeting warrant. They both attempt to regulate the use of shopping bags at retail outlet checkout counters in Oak Bluffs. Article 44 contains the same language that was overwhelmingly approved in all five of the other Island towns at last year’s town meetings. Due to some last-minute concerns from a vocal group of businesspeople, Oak Bluffs voters were not given the opportunity to express their wishes on this question at last year’s town meeting.

Alongside Article 44 is Article 45, crafted by the same businesspeople who were opposed to Article 44. The major differences revolve around bag thickness, deadlines to implement, and an exemption to the thickness dimension if the bag is “biodegradable.”

The more I read and learn about plastic exposure in our lives, the more I am convinced we should avoid it as much as possible. The new meaning of the term “BYOB” — bring your own bag — should be the ultimate solution here. Reusable, preferably cloth bags are readily available, stronger, and more comfortable to carry. Bringing these with us whenever we shop or do takeout requires only a slight adjustment in our daily routines.

We all win with this approach, especially the environment and the business owners! Passing a bylaw allowing a thinner bag as proposed in Article 45 is a small step forward, but delays and discourages BYOB. Continuing to allow a less durable bag, more likely to be used only once and then possibly be blown away into the ocean or one of our coastal ponds, makes no sense! Let’s get on board with the rest of the Island. I know Oak Bluffs is unique and special, but really, considering us exempt from common sense is not who we are. Please vote for Article 44, and not Article 45, to show our Island neighbors and our off-Island visitors that we are serious about protecting what we all live here for: a healthy, clean, and caring environment.

Richard Toole
Oak Bluffs