Shoppers weigh in on bag ban

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Experts discuss how to clean reusable shopping bags in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts discuss how to clean reusable shopping bags in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rebecca Martorella /

At the Darien Sidewalk Sales & Family Fun Days on Saturday, July 13, some shoppers were spotted carrying reusable bags — while others were not.

The Darien Times asked shoppers what they thought of the recent passing of the plastic bag ban in town. While the town ban doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020, the state ordinance begins Aug. 1.

Surrounding towns such as Stamford and Norwalk have recently passed plastic bag bans as well.

“An inconvenience”

Rosemary Schoenherr of Stamford said while she “totally respects” the ban, she’s “frustrated” with herself for not remembering to bring her reusable bags from home whenever she shops.

“It’s just that I forget to constantly bring the bags,” she said. “I have to buy a bag. It’s my own problem.”

Norwalk resident David Murphy agrees. “While I understand why plastic bags are being banned,“it’s definitely an inconvenience. I just can’t carry out my groceries now. I have to now remember to bring my own bag,” he said.

He added that if stores must use paper bags, “make sure they have handles.”

Murphy’s wife Karen said when doing a large grocery shopping, “to have five paper bags without handles is challenging.”

Full support

Darien resident Jaime Pisencio said he’s in full support of the ban, which will “keep the environment cleaner.”

“I think people overestimate what the importance of all that means,” Pisencio said. “If you can do just a small little effort and get rid of plastic bags, it plays a big role environmentally and on the macro level.”

Will Yoder of Stamford, who recently moved from California, said he won’t have to adjust at all to the change.

“In California, that’s how it was already, so we’re actually used to it,” said Yoder, who was pushing his 2-year-old son Bobby in a stroller.

He added the stroller actually helps when no bag is available.

“When you’re carrying a stroller around with a baby, you kind of have space to put things in anyway so it isn’t a huge issue for us,” Yoder said, adding that he has also purchased reusable bags, which he always carries with him.

Wanting more

While Darien resident Michelle Mitrione said she is “happy” about the ban from an environmental perspective, she suspects the ban is “most likely only a transition” to another alternative than having to remember to bring one’s own bag.

“This is an interim solution and I think either the stores are going to start using paper more, or they’ll transition to incorporating the bags into their pricing,” Mitrione said. “Remembering to bring the bags is a concern. Longer term, there will be a more convenient and green solution.”

Charles Tarzia of Stamford said a lot more is needed for a greener environment than a ban on plastic bags. He said people need a stronger motive to go green.

“We are hypocrites” in that many may carry around reusable bags but don’t recycle in their own homes, according to Tarzia.

“A lot of people don’t care and there’s no incentive, no push to educate people,” he said, adding that there should be a community-wide education awareness campaign so people would learn more about the importance of recycling.

Tarzia said that where he lives, the garbage is picked up on the same day as the recycling bags.

“If people don’t have their recyclable bin out, I wouldn’t pick up their garbage. That’s an incentive, right?” he asked. “How can you have those big brown garbage bags and no recycle bags at all? There’s something wrong.”

Plastic bag ban ordinances

Darien ordinance —The Ordinance for the Management of Plastic and Paper Checkout Bags phases out plastic bags of less than 12 mil thickness and requires a 10-cent charge for recycled paper bags, with the charge being retained by the retailer.

Stores under 10,000 square feet will permanently not be required to charge a 10-cent fee with the purchase of a paper bag. However, if they want to, they can.

It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Beginning Jan, 1, 2021, no Darien store will provide single-use plastic bags and all stores will offer only compliant reusable and compliant paper bags.

State of Connecticut Plastic bag ban ordinance — On June 3, the Connecticut General Assembly also passed a plastic bag ordinance.

Bill 7424, passed by the House and Senate, was signed into law by the governor. It requires retailers to charge a 10-cent tax on any single-use plastic bag under 4 mil distributed, beginning Aug. 1. The tax is collected and retained by the state. All single-use plastic bags will be banned beginning July 1, 2021.