Letter: Support an Ordinance Restricting Plastic Bags

This is a copy of a letter Finley Wetmore, a ninth grade student at Darien High School, sent to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson about the town's consideration of a single-use plastic shopping bags ordinance. Patch is publishing it at the write

Dear Mrs. Stevenson,

My name is Finley Wetmore and I am in the ninth grade at Darien High School. I am a member of the Eco-Citizens Club.

I would like to give my opinion on the choice that you and the RTM will be making to adopt an ordinance to rid Darien of single-use plastic shopping bags. Everyday, hundreds to thousands of these plastic bags are leaving our grocery stores and chain pharmacies with customers.

These bags then, after their single use, are either thrown out, or used for some other purpose and then thrown out. Some of these bags don’t even get the courtesy of being thrown out, and Darien citizens may just walk around town to see those repercussions.

Plastic bags end up in trees, storm drains, on the beach, and in backyards like my own.  Storm drains and beaches both feed this litter into the Long Island Sound.

The bags that end up in either of those places are Darien’s way of saying that we don’t care enough about the environment to just grab a reusable bag as we get out of the car.

All of those bags will end up at some point in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. According to CNN’s Eco Solutions page, this patch is larger than Texas and is a floating plastic island that birds dive for, fish try to eat, and is getting bigger by the day.

For those single-use plastic bags that do make it into our garbage stream, the byproduct of their incineration is toxic.  Burning garbage to make energy is good; burning plastic is not.

Your decision to pass this ordinance, could help change the world. This is not about politics or economics. This is about our world as we know it and whether or not we, as a town, are going to make the push for a better future like so many other towns and entire countries have already done.

We are not just citizens of Darien, we are citizens of the world and therefore it is our duty to preserve, protect and love this Earth.

I have great respect for your and the RTM’s work on behalf of our community and thank you for you thoughtful consideration of this important issue.


Finley Wetmore

Paul Anthony September 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Why stop at Darien? These bags should be banned statewide...No NATIONWIDE! No wait...WORLDWIDE! It's the only responsible thing to do.
Debra Ritchie September 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Schuyler Colfax September 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Can someone explain how plastic bags make their way from Long Island Sound to the Pacific Ocean as Ms. Wetmore claims? Do they go through the Panama Canal or around Cape Horn? I use plastic bags for my garbage, should those be banned? I use plastic to store food, should those be banned? We use plastic to store sandwiches for our kids lunch, should those be banned? This is a solution in search of a problem. As an aside, why does Choose to Reuse choose to use such an Orwellian name? Darien citizens have had a choice to use reusable bags for well over a decade and politely declined. Choosing to reuse is the last thing Choose to Reuse wants to happen. SC
Nina Miller September 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Dear Mr/Ms Colfax, My name is Nina Miller and I am a co-founder of Choose to Reuse, the group in Darien that is working hard to get an ordinance passed that would discontinue the dispensing of the two handled plastic shopping bags by our merchants in town. I applaud Ms. Wetmore for speaking up about an issue for which she cares deeply. When Finley alluded to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, she was referring to one of 11 Gyres in our oceans, a couple of which are in the Atlantic, from Bermuda and on north. These gyres are huge, swirling currents of water. The 5Gyres Foundation has determined that there is a lot of garbage in each of these masses. It is also estimated that about 80% of litter in our oceans comes from land. The Great Pacific Garbage patch is the most studied of these gyres. THe Choose to Reuse Group firmly believes that if Darien can be a leader in the effort to help clean up our oceans, others will follow. THE EPA calculates that less than 12% of plastic bags are recycled which means that a whole heck of a lot of these bags, 6 million of which are used in Darien per year, are going somewhere, either to incinerators or out into the environment. There are alternatives to these bags. We are not aganst plastic in general and recognize it's value for certain things. But, we can and should do without these ubiquitous bags. Please visit our website and we thank you for your comments. Sincerely, Nina Miller www.choosetoreuseindarien.org
Bohdana Puzyk September 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM
If "Choose to Reuse" could just understand the meaning of the word "Choose" then we would be happier. I do not see plastic bags in the sidewalks, beaches, streets or anywhere else laying around littering. And why just those plastic bags and not other bags? These bags are reused and are useful in many household. And really an ordinance???? Just continue educating and stop telling me what to do!


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