December 24, 2014

County Executive Encouraged by Support For Non-Binding Plastic Bag Referendum

To the Editor:

In the recent November General Election, more than 27,000 Mercer County residents voted in support of a county measure aimed at helping our environment by reducing our dependence on the ubiquitous single-use plastic grocery bags. Even though the non-binding referendum failed, I believe the number of voters who supported the measure is evidence of our changing thinking about plastic bags. I’m proud of the heightened awareness that resulted from the campaign and I’m pleased by the number of people who have let me know personally that as a result they’ve abandoned plastic shopping bags and, whenever possible, bring their own reusable bags.

The referendum, which asked voters whether they would support a 5-cent fee per bag, was unfairly labeled a tax. Shoppers could avoid such a fee simply by bringing their own bags. Consumers should admire and support businesses that already encourage shoppers to bring their own bags, such as Whole Foods, Aldi’s, Sam’s Club, Brick Farm Market and others, or those that offer the option of sturdy paper sacks with handles, like Trader Joe’s, McCaffrey’s, Risoldi’s and more. I also encourage merchants to consider discounting shoppers who bring their own bags, and applaud those who already do.

I’m excited by the referendum’s public support, but above all I’m proud that so many consumers and businesses are actively taking the steps toward what I hope will be an eventual ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. If you believe as I do that reusable bags are the wisest choice, I encourage you to help spread the word. Our children and grandchildren deserve no less.

Brian M. Hughes

Mercer County Executive