They Hope To Sack The Plastic Bag

Posted: April 18, 1990

It's BYOB at Murphy's Super-Rite on Sunday - that's bring your own bag.

Members of the League of Women Voters of Medford, Medford Lakes and Evesham are bringing their own bags for a shopping expedition at the store to protest the use of plastic bags and commemorate Earth Day.

"We want to draw attention to the use of the plastic bags, and we're hoping that we can stop the use of them," said Ethel Daum, a league member. ''We are going to go with our own containers, like canvas tote bags or string bags."

Daum said area landfills are running out of space, and the bags are part of the problem.

"They're not biodegradable," she said. "It will take 200 years for them to disintegrate. . . . It's costing us more and more money, but we've got to stop this dependence on these kind of containers. They really are not something that we can't do without. Their use has kind of ballooned in the last two years."

Sam Hartwell, a research associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, supported the league's action.

"The idea is to reuse materials and reduce the amount of waste you create," he said. "We can have huge gains from recycling, but waste reduction is even better," Hartwell said. "It's absolutely free from any additional expenditures or use of energy or pollution. Even recycling can't claim that."

Hartwell said using a reusable shopping bag is just one example of waste reduction. He suggested using a ceramic mug instead of disposable plastic-foam coffee cups, and making double-sided copies whenever possible.

Paul Buckley, director of operations at Murphy's grocery store on Stokes Road in Medford, supports the women's actions.

"We live in a community where the safety of the environment has always been a predominant factor," he said. "The women are going to be bringing reusable containers of different varieties, boxes and bags, to demonstrate to our customers that you can bring packaging from home, use it to pick up your groceries and get back to the house, then reuse the packaging, without having to worry about what to do with the plastic bags."

Buckley said his store began offering plastic bags when competing stores did. "Many older customers have arthritis and have trouble with the heavier packages. Plastic bags with the handles made it easier for them."

League members invite concerned shoppers to join them at the store at 3 p.m.

"We intend to continue doing this," Daum said. "It's not just a one-shot deal. We will keep doing it and hope someone sees it and thinks it's a good idea."

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