Plastic big problem
Editor, Gettysburg Times.
I was pleased that Gettysburg Borough Council was receptive to discussing Gettysburg Rising’s “Rise Above Plastic” initiative to curb the distribution of single use plastics in Gettysburg at their last meeting. I’m encouraged by their willingness to engage in dialogue, and I want to take this opportunity to fill in some gaps in the discussion that occurred at their meeting.
One uncertainty involved what kinds of plastic bags would be covered under the proposed ordinance. The definitions contained within the Narberth, PA ordinance that (provided to council on 5/13) are comprehensive. We’re referring to the kinds of plastic bags that one would receive when checking out at Kennie’s. It would exclude plastic produce bags, newspaper bags, comic book covers, etc. Another concern was over how to dispose of pet feces. With the proposed ordinance, single use plastics would still be available for a small fee. Another, perhaps more sustainable alternative, is to use compostable plastic bags, widely available on Amazon.
Another point raised was that it could drive business away from Gettysburg. Given the overwhelming support of our petition, in which over 95 percent of people we spoke with were in favor of an ordinance, I don’t believe this is a valid fear. However, our next steps will be to talk to local businesses to gauge their support. Merchants actually stand to gain from the practice of charging a fee for each plastic bag issued instead of providing them for free.
Lastly, they wondered if we are aware that two of the biggest merchants in this area, Giant and Walmart, are outside the borough. We are well aware of this. Due to our weak county system, we cannot enact change at the county level. We decided to start with our own municipality, and once we have success, bring this initiative to other nearby municipalities like Straban.
I appreciate the council members taking this initiative seriously and I hope that I have been able to alleviate some of their concerns, which might be shared by other community members. I encourage everyone to let their council members know how they feel about an ordinance that would encourage the use of reusable bags for purchases, while still allowing single use plastic bags to be an option for a small fee. Plastic pollution is a serious problem facing our planet, and we can work together to change our habits.