By Val Thorpe, Director of Communications & Membership
We are thrilled to see with our own eyes that local merchants are embracing the new single-use plastic bag ban that went into effect March 1, 2020 for Chatham Township and Chatham Borough. A few short months ago we were sitting at the town meetings alongside other concerned citizens working towards the adoption of these landmark environmental ordinances. Just look what we accomplished together! We spotted this sign at the Green Village Deli and another at the ShopRite in Chatham Borough. Excellent start! But what about the proposed New Jersey state-wide ban?
On March 5, 2020 the state Senate voted 22-14 on a bill that would ban both plastic and paper bags throughout New Jersey, and place restrictions on plastic straws (upon request, something advocates for the disabled have long pushed for) and Styrofoam (polystyrene) products. This is a big step in the right direction. So, what happens next? It’s now in the hands of the state Assembly who will have to pass their own version of the bill. For example, they are pondering if the dates of the bans on paper and plastic should be staggered to take effect separately. Once the state Assembly votes in favor of the bill, it is sent to Governor Murphy for final approval and signature.
As the bill is worded now, it will take effect 18 months after the governor’s signs it. If this current bill becomes law, New Jersey will become the first state to ban both plastic and paper bags.
So, we have a bit of a wait before we see anything formal happen here in the Garden State. Until then, we hope to see these types of bans adopted by more and more towns throughout our watershed and beyond. If you are interested in starting a movement in your town, check out this article from Earth Institute, Columbia University.
In the meantime, we encourage you to ditch the single-use plastic bags even if your town allows them. Collect those reusable bags from around your house and find a convenient spot to stash them in your car. Oh, and don’t forget to actually bring them into the store with you, unless you’re like me and use this as an excuse to get in those extra steps!