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Guest Column: Bans on Plastic Bags Gaining Ground
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, Guest Columnist
09:24PM / Wednesday, June 22, 2016
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I am pleased to announce that at last night's town meeting (Monday, June 20), Adams banned single-use plastic bags. (Article 25). It was a remarkable unanimous vote by the members of the town meeting.
 
Recently, there have been a series of single-use plastic bag bans. There has been a ban in Lee, a ban in Lenox, and last night a ban in Adams. Lenox was done by the Board of Health. In Lee, the ban on single-use plastic bags was done by town meeting — where it won by a considerable margin. In a similar manner, Lee and Lenox banned the use of Styrofoam.
 
What is less commonly known is my role in these bans. The ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags in Lee and Lenox, and the ban on single-use plastic bags in Adams all started out with citizen's petitions initiated by myself and filed in 2015 with the respective town clerks. Citizens' petitions were also filed in Dalton.

Three out of four ain't bad, I am still hopeful about Dalton.
 

In Lee, Peter Hoffman, chair of the Lee Recycling Commission, took over the reins and the guy was a maestro.  In Lenox, Eric Federer of the Environmental Committee was the workhorse. In Adams, Board of Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Snoonian and Town Moderator Edward Driscoll were the driving forces. I am so grateful to all these heroes for taking my tabled petition, investing such large amounts of time as I know these things take, and being such an inspiration to their communities. All of these people should also be recipients of the Hero of the Ocean Award as I was.
 
Last year, with my advice and inspiration, Brad Verter was able to get both Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags banned in Williamstown. I was able to have Pittsfield ban Styrofoam, and these activities are chronicled here.
 
In March 2014, I filed a petition to ban single-use plastic bags in Pittsfield, a petition that is now still in front of the Pittsfield Green Commission.
 
With Pittsfield having already approved my petition to ban Styrofoam, it is my hope that they will approve my petition, still in the Green Committee, to ban single-use plastic bags. Since I filed the petition, Williamstown, Lee, Lenox and Adams have all banned single-use plastic bags. It is time for Pittsfield to make that green change for the better, and join these communities.  

I have spoken to Brad Verter (Williamstown), Peter Hoffman (Lee), Eric Federer (Lenox), and Jeffrey Snoonian (Adams) and all have agreed to speak to the Pittsfield Green Commission to give them their insights learned from their respective communities. I am sure Ed Driscoll, a longtime green activist, will make himself available. It is my hope that the Pittsfield Green Commission takes them up on this offer to meet with them.
 
According to Driscoll, the tabled Styrofoam petition will be heard next year.  

The Styrofoam ban is easier than the single-use plastic bag ban. Given that the town of Adams unanimously said no to single-use plastic bags, I am optimistic about a similar outcome next year when a Styrofoam ban is put on the town warrant.
 
I was inspired by Great Barrington. Lee, Lenox, and Adams in turn were inspired by me. And that is what a movement is all about — it is about "we" and "us." When I first filed my petitions in Pittsfield City Hall, and when I filed citizens' petitions for articles on the town warrants in Lee, Lenox, Adams and Dalton, I was the subject of immense criticism. Today, through persistence, we have succeeded. What was once a controversial idea has now become an accepted policy.

Rinaldo Del Gallo is a local attorney and civic activist. He is currently a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state Senate.

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