As you are aware, we, Choose to Reuse (CTR), formed a group in 2009, and initially focused on a campaign to educate the community on the negative impact of single use plastic checkout bags on our families and the environment, and about the benefits of reusable shopping bags. Although this campaign did not result in a reduction in the use of these bags, the series of educational events that we hosted throughout town led to a snowballing of the number of supporters to include nearly 700 Darien residents all of whom have signed a petition to ban plastic shopping bags from our town. Our supporters represent people of all ages, gender and political affiliation. What we all have in common is our will and desire to eliminate plastic retail shopping bags from Darien.

On April 11, CTR met with the Board of Selectmen to present this information and a week later as a follow-up, Nina Miller and Deepika Saksena met with Dave Campbell and Jerry Nielsen. Out of that meeting came a suggestion that we pursue a voluntary ban of plastic checkout bags before going for an ordinance to achieve such a ban. We followed that route and canvassed nearly 150 merchants to assess their commitment to a voluntary ban of plastic retail shopping bags. In each of these encounters, we had the opportunity to both inform and educate merchants about our mission. The results of our efforts were presented at the Board of Selectmen meeting on June 6.

Essentially, on meeting with the store managers, we realized that a handful of stores account for the largest percentage of single use plastic bags; Stop & Shop and CVS account for more than 50 percent of checkout bags in Darien. These chains have a corporate policy to give their customers all the choices that are available to offer. As a consequence, these chains are unable to accommodate a voluntary ban.

However, they could and would follow a town ordinance as they have done in Westport.

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Furthermore, at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 22, it became clear to all of us that an appeal to upper management of stores like Stop & Shop and Palmer's has not had the desired effect, in that a voluntary ban will not be considered by these stores. Without the participation of these stores, a voluntary ban is meaningless as it will not achieve reasonable change. Our mission has always been, and will continue to be, to dramatically improve the environment of Darien by ridding our trees, beaches and waterways of nearly 6 million single-use plastic bags a year. So at this time, we request that the Board of Selectmen take action on the proposed ordinance and request the RTM to vote on it. Nearly 700 citizens have signed their name in support, there is tremendous momentum locally, and now is the perfect time for Darien to be a leader in the environment. Let's meet the challenge and make a difference. Thank you for your engagement in this process, your interest in our initiative and mostly for your commitment to improving the Darien that our children will inherit.

Choose to Reuse in Darien

Team Volunteer Leadership:

Sandy Filmer

Linda Goodyear

Tory Holdt

Nina Miller

Deepika Saksena

Rhonda Sherwood

Leila Wetmore