Barrington, R.I. -- On Monday evening, the Barrington Town Council voted 4 to 1 to pass an ordinance proposed by the Barrington Conservation Commission to ban plastic bags in the town. The ordinance prohibits the distribution of disposable plastic checkout bags at the point of sale, effective January 1, 2012.
"We applaud the town council's decision to move forward with this initiative to protect the Bay and local waterways from plastic bag pollution," said Channing Jones, Program Associate with Environment Rhode Island, a citizen-based advocacy group. "Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute the Bay for future generations."
Plastic bags are among the most commonly found types of marine debris in Rhode Island coastal cleanups, posing a direct threat to wildlife such as birds, turtles, and whales that can starve or choke to death after ingesting them. Once in the marine environment, plastic never biodegrades, but fragments into tiny pieces that absorb toxic pollutants in the water.
At the council meeting, Environment Rhode Island presented the names of nearly 400 Barrington residents signed on in support of a plastic bag ban, as well as a statement signed by 14 Barrington businesses.
"In Barrington, public support for the bag ban has been clear," said Jones. "Banning plastic bags is a common sense policy to protect the Bay and the marine environment. We look forward to seeing other Rhode Island municipalities follow Barrington's lead."
Barrington is the second municipality in New England and the first in Rhode Island to enact such a ban.