A year’s worth of plastic bags in Northampton eliminated

Local stores that do not follow the ban are fined $50-$100 according to the Northampton mayor's office

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been a year since Northampton has banned the use of plastic bags in the city, and although plastic may be more convenient, 22News spoke with residents and business owner who agree the change was the right decision for 2016. Since the new year, local stores have been following a city ordinance banning single-use plastic bags.

According to city councilor Paul Spector, before the ban took effect, Northampton used 12-15 million single-use plastic bags every year. The mandate to reduce that number hasn’t been the most convenient, but has made shoppers more aware of their carbon footprint.

Alec Jollison of Montague told 22News, “[It’s] the whole idea of the environmental damage they can do, and that you can’t dispose of them easily. Paper is definitely better and in some cases it’s easier to get rid of, and you can still reuse them if you want.”

The fine for any business that continues to use plastic bags in the city is actually pretty cheap. According to the mayor’s office, the fine is only between $50 – $100. State Street Fruit Store made the switch a year earlier based on customer feedback. Even though owner Richard Cooper recognizes paper is more eco-friendly, he says “Paper bags are more of a headache for a retailer. They’re more expensive, they’re bulkier, they take up more space. But, it’s the right thing to do.”

Cities like Westfield are also considering implementing a similar ban. A draft of the proposal was presented Thursday night to the city council’s public health and safety committee, giving a glimpse of what could be coming to the city by early next year.

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