Blog : Plastic Bag Monsters

By Sarah Mahoney | Mar 30, 2015 | in

Josh Denton is a guest blogger who is very active in environmental activism in Portsmouth as well as a member of the Green Alliance.

I am very excited that Portsmouth’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices has recommended the single-use, carry-out plastic bag ordinance for a First Reading. Upon passage, the Port City would be the first municipality in New Hampshire to join Portland, ME, and Newburyport, MA, in enacting such an ordinance.

The ordinance requires all stores at checkout to use recycled paper or reusable bags instead of traditional plastic grocery bags. It still allows plastic bags for prepared takeout food and for our meats, fruits, and vegetables at the grocery store. The ordinance also requires a 10 cent pass-through to be charged for every paper bag issued to recoup the cost of the paper bag and incentivize reusable bag use. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchases will not be charged the 10 cent pass-through.

To raise awareness for the need for such an ordinance, residents have begun sporting ‘Plastic Bag Monster’ outfits outside events around town ranging from 3S Artspace’s opening to Music Hall programs. Many will recognize the monsters from the past several Halloween Parades. Each monster is composed of 500 of the ubiquitous plastic grocery store bags, the figure attributed to the average number a shopper uses every year.

I strongly urge the City Council to enact the ordnance and put Portsmouth on the path to become New Hampshire’s leader in sustainability. In the meantime, when you see the monsters around town, feel free to approach, take selfies, and simply have fun with us as enthusiasm for the ordinance grows.