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Darien To Vote On Plastic Bag Ban Monday

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien will decide whether or not to ban plastic bags next week. The debate over creating an ordinance to ban plastic shopping bags has gone on for years, but will finally be put to a vote by the Representative Town Meeting Monday night.

If implemented, the ban would give stores six to nine months to get rid of their current stock of plastic shopping bags. After that, stores that still hand out the bags could face fines of up to $150. Enforcement of the ban will be overseen by the Environmental Protection Commission.

The group Choose to Reuse in Darien has been fighting for the ban by appearing before town boards and educating the public on the dangers of plastic bags. However, members have said that education isn’t enough, and that a town ordinance banning the bags is necessary in order to cut down on their use. They cite large chain stores in town, whose corporate policies will not allow them to commit to a voluntary ban.

Opponents of the bag ban have said that the ordinance would hurt Darien stores and drive business to neighboring towns. Greg Palmer, owner of Palmer’s Market in Darien, said at a Board of Selectmen meeting last year that he believes in the need to cut down on plastic and encourages customers to use reusable bags. However, he said that banning the bags outright could hurt the business.

Nina Miller, one of the founders of Choose to Reuse and a RTM member, likens the ordinance to laws requiring seatbelts and banning smoking in public. She said that if Darien bans the bags, then other towns could follow and eventually lead to a statewide ban.

“We’re very excited, and we’re very worried, but we’re thinking positively,” Miller said of Monday’s vote. She said that early voting in committees indicate that Monday’s result could be close, and that they are still working to get the word out and encourage people to sign petitions and contact their RTM members.

“If it’s passed, we’ll be at the front door of Palmer’s making people aware of what’s going to happen,” she said. “We’ve been educating all along, and we’ll continue to do so.”

The RTM will meet Monday night at 8 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.

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