Boulder is in the beginning stages of considering a movement to ban or fine the use of plastic bags in the city, mostly due to the tireless efforts of a grassroots activist organization that is making a splash statewide: New Era Colorado.
As The Daily Camera reports, City Manager Jane Brautigam was approached by members of New Era Colorado, many of which are also students of University of Colorado Boulder, requesting this policy change on plastic bag usage.
If passed, Boulder would join the ranks of other places like San Francisco, cities in France and Bangladesh who have instated similar bans or fines on the use of of the ubiquitous grocery store plastic bag.
Ken Wilson, Deputy Mayor of Boulder told the Huffington Post, “The city council is considering this, but it’s in the early stages. We are waiting on staff memo with the results of a review to see what other cities are doing with regards to plastic bag bans and fines, what the trends are. We will look at that, see if we have time to manage pushing it forward with all the other plans we have in motion, we have a lot on the table currently.”
Steve Fenberg, Executive Director and founder of New Era said to the HuffPost, “Basically, single use bags are the most ubiquitous symbol of our throwaway culture,” But, what’s been misreported is that we are not actually supporting an out-right ban, we see a spectrum of reasonable options available to the city including a fee-based usage charge all the way to an outright ban. We have been working on this with the City Council for a couple of months now.”
“We want to incentivize people to use less plastic. Our research shows that when stores give an in-store credit to shoppers who don’t use plastic bags, it’s not as effective as charging a fee or a fine for using a plastic bag to carry your groceries out. With a fine or fee system, we are estimating a 40-60 percent decrease in use over a period of just a year. The bags have a shelf life of almost an hour, they contaminate recycling systems, create more pollution, waste our natural resources - the cost of oil alone should be reason enough not to use these bags. Oil byproducts like petroleum are used to make these plastic bags and oil is expensive, it’s getting more expensive and it should simply not be used in creating something as frivolous and wasteful as these bags. And in Boulder alone we use 40-50 million of these bags a year and that’s just one small city. The impact of not using these bags is staggeringly large.”
New Era Colorado has been partnering with Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycling firm that recycles plastics and resells the single-use plastics to contractors to help lessen the negative impact.
Recycling awareness in Boulder is just one of several civic-minded movements New Era is at the front of - they continue their work statewide on legalized civil unions, election reform, renters rights, voter turnout and education. To date, New Era Colorado has single-handedly registered 25,000 young voters in the state.