PITTSFIELD — People in the U.S. have used more than 400 billion plastic shopping bags, by Sierra Club statistics, since a bag ban first appeared before the City Council.
On Jan. 23 a petition to ban single-use plastic bags, originally filed in 2013 by Rinaldo Del Gallo, will once again appear before councilors. This time, it has backing from the city's Green Commission, which also reviewed similar policies adopted in some 60 Massachusetts municipalities and drafted an ordinance for the council's consideration.
Key issues surrounding plastic bags are that they take hundreds of years to degrade, and many are only used once. Seven other towns in the Berkshires have adopted bans on single-use plastic bags: Great Barrington, Williamstown, Stockbridge, Adams, Dalton, Lee and Lenox.
John Krol, council vice-president and member of the Green Commission, said the council has an opportunity to join others across the state in "distinguishing our city as one that cares about the environment."
"Other communities have done this and they've done this successfully; it has turned out that it hasn't been as big of an inconvenience as people anticipated," he said. "We're not breaking new ground by doing this."
Krol said the council could take a vote on the matter at the Jan. 23 meeting, but said it's more likely councilors will send the drafted ordinance to a subcommittee for further review.
Krol called the ban an issue of the greater good versus a minor inconvenience.
"In my own household, it would be an adjustment," he conceded, adding he has three young children and sees the convenience in stashing away plastic bags for household uses.
But he said reusable bags are already very much in play in the Berkshires, even in Pittsfield at stores like BJ's.
"It can be done and it is done every day," he said. "Not only in Pittsfield but in other communities."
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