Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions
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CCE PRESS CENTER

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
For more information contact:
Louis Burch, Program Coordinator, (203) 821-7050, (203) 503-1314 (mobile), lburch@citizenscampaign.org

DARIEN RTM CASTS SIGNIFICANT ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL VOTE, IGNORES CONSTITUENT PLEAS, DEFIES RESEARCH, VOTES DOWN BAG BAN

DARIEN, CT — Despite enormous community support and scientific proof that plastic pollution is choking local and global environments, Darien RTM members voted down a meaningful bag ban that would reduce plastic pollution.


Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and other grassroots groups including Choose to Reuse, and local high school student groups collected over 2,300 resident signatures in support for the legislation. Despite overwhelming support, the measure was voted down 46 to 36.


“It is shocking to the democratic system that 56% of the RTM members voted against legislation to ban harmful plastic bags, despite the outpouring of public support for this forward thinking initiative. Banning plastic bags would be one important contribution Darien could make to protecting our local and global environment,” said Louis Burch, Program Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.


“It defies logic that RTM Member Jim Cameron voted against banning plastic bags and then claimed to be an “environmentalist.”  Recycling daily does not make you an environmentalist. Taking action that shows you realize that communities around the world are responsible for the global pollution crisis makes you an environmentalist. Sadly, Cameron failed to recognize this responsibility was his own as an elected leader, and by failing to do so, his self-proclaimed title to be an environmentalist is inaccurate and flew in the face of thousands of Darien residents who actively supported this initiative,” added Burch.


CCE also conducted surveys, asking over 200 Darien residents about their behaviors, attitudes, and opinions on disposable and reusable bags.

• 81% of residents surveyed said they support banning the distribution of harmful disposable bags.
• Only 21% of residents claim to always bring their reusable bag.
• 83% of residents claimed that their biggest reason for not using reusable bags is because they forget them.
• After hearing or reading a list of plastic bag facts, 93% said they would change their habits and make an effort to bring reusable bags more often.


In nearby Westport, a 2009 ban on plastic bags has proven successful. The town has experienced a 70% increase in the number of people bringing their own bags to stores within the first year of implementing that ordinance. Residents have become used to the idea of reducing waste by using sustainable, reusable bags. In nearby Wilton, where legislation was tabled pending an educational campaign, they found that the educational campaign was only able to reduce plastic bag use by 20%. Education is critical, but it needs to be a precursor, or paired with legislation to actually have a significant impact in changing public behavior. Hundreds of bans implemented around the world have successfully changed consumer behavior, and reduced the use of disposable bags. In 2012 alone, dozens of municipalities across the U.S. have passed legislation reducing plastic bags.


“The research CCE and others have done clearly shows that this was an issue that the community supported, yet Darien took an ostrich approach to leadership by burying their heads in the sand and pretending a plastic pollution problem doesn’t exist,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Darien leaders voted to continue the status quo, but CCE and the community will continue to work to protect our environment and public health,” she continued.

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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by seckel  9/26/12