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Darien Candidates Split on Plastic Bag Ban

DARIEN, Conn. – Merchants, shoppers and environmentalists are divided over whether an ordinance should be established to ban plastic shopping bags in town. First selectman candidates Jayme Stevenson and John Lundeen both agree that plastic bags are harmful to the environment but disagree over whether they should be legally banned from Darien stores.

In a position paper on the proposed ordinance, Stevenson praises the group Choose to Reuse in Darien for bringing the issue to the forefront and the efforts it has taken to educate people about the harmful effects of plastic bags. However, she says the name of the group "in and of itself embodies one of the fundamental reasons I cannot support a government mandated ban on plastic bags – choice. 'Choice' is a fundamental right on which our country was founded."

Lundeen supports the ban but wishes that the issue could be dealt with at the state level. That way, merchants in Darien would not be at a disadvantage with stores in surrounding towns. "We have to try to take responsibility and get away from using these bags," he said. "This ban would have, as documented by several of Darien's family-owned businesses, at least for the short term, a very negative financial impact."

At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting , Lundeen heard the arguments from local storeowners against the ban. "I thought it was interesting we did not hear from the two supermarkets in town – Whole Foods and Trader Joe's – who choose not to use plastic bags," he said. "I would love to talk to those people."

Stop & Shop may be willing to cut the use of plastic bags, Lundeen said, but can't without a local ordinance. Stevenson said that big stores may be able to absorb the costs but smaller stores cannot.

In a Youtube video on the subject, Independent first selectman candidate Chris Noe talks about Choose to Reuse and the film "Bag It." "It makes a compelling case for their argument," he said. "But there's reason to be fearful of new laws."

He cites the Connecticut bottle bill , which he calls "an absolute nightmare." He also wonders whether environmentalists would go after all plastics if this ban were enacted.

Whose position on the plastic bag ban do you agree with? Tell us in the comments below.

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