Blog : Ahead of the Times

By Sarah Mahoney | May 12, 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 excited that a year and a half after I ran for City Council on a Deer Street parking garage, the City Council unanimously voted for this Worth Lot alternative. With this decade long debate settled, the City Council can address our future by enacting the single-use, carry-out, plastic bag ordinance.

All year, I have stated the proposed ordinance is legally sound under New Hampshire's solid waste statute. R.S.A. 149-M’s purpose is protecting human health, preserving the natural environment, and conserving natural resources. The ordinance does this by reducing plastic pieces in both our maritime food stream and our oceans, as well as conserving the precious fossil fuels that plastic shopping bags derive from.

R.S.A. 149-M’s integrated solid waste management methods hierarchy is: source reduction; recycling and reusing; composting; waste-to-energy technologies (including incineration); incineration without resource recovery; and landfilling. Portsmouth landfills plastic shopping bags, while the ordinance reduces them at the source, the point of sale. R.S.A. 149-M does not specify waste for source reduction, nor does it specify single-stream recycling as permissible. If we single-stream recycle, and hopefully soon curbside compost, we can also reduce plastic shopping bag waste.

All shoppers use bags, and enacting the single-use, carry-out, plastic bag ordinance will help educate the public on the collective harms of single-use convenience plastics and move Portsmouth towards a more sustainable future. Like the Deer Street garage, I may be ahead of the times on the bag ordinance, but we do not have to wait a year and a half for this practical solution to become more commonly accepted to lead.