Blog : Josh Denton's Letter to the Editor

By Sarah Mahoney | Apr 13, 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.

The City Council will decide on April 20, whether they bring the single-use, carry-out, plastic bag ordinance for a First Reading. Portsmouth would become the first municipality in New Hampshire to join Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, in enacting ordinances towards a sustainable future of reusable items instead of single-use convenience ones.

The Port City leading the state in this effort will require taking a risk. City Attorney Sullivan does a great job representing Portsmouth and would prefer a specific enabling statute. I agree with McLane Law’s attorney, New Hampshire’s solid waste treatment statutes already grant authority to require all stores to issue recycled paper bags, instead of the traditional, two-handled, plastic grocery bags.

Over the past two years alone, the City Council spent more than $280,000 in lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency so the Pierce Island wastewater treatment plant can pump hundreds of tons more pollution than allowed under the Clean Water Act into the Piscataqua River, resulting in unsafe shellfish harvesting from the Great Bay to Odiorne Point.

If we are willing to sue for monetary reasons to pollute our estuary, we should be willing to pass an ordinance to reduce our plastic pollution. Due to their aerodynamics, many of our landfilled plastic grocery bags end up in the ocean, break down into small plastic pieces, are intermittently digested by marine life, and will persist in the environment for hundreds of years.

Leadership requires taking risks, and striving for a sustainable future is a risk worth taking.