Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Make It Stop


A problem which I had noticed before the pandemic has multiplied drastically over the last year. It looks like this:

Here you see plastic cutlery and napkins which have arrived with take-out orders. It’s not even a whole year’s worth, as I was able to rehome a large chunk a while ago with someone in my Buy Nothing group who needed them for her office. Yes, we’ve been eating more take-out during the pandemic to support local business. No, we didn’t ask for any of this cutlery.

Through no fault of my own I’m now in possession of:

  • Wrapped packets (sets): 41 
  • Wrapped Single Pieces:  45  (Knives 9 Forks 35 Spoons  1)
  • Unwrapped Single Pieces: 107  (Knives 34 Forks 65 Spoons 8)
Number of items I requested or used: 0.

All this plastic is piling up in homes all over Howard County. Social media is studdded with offers from swamped consumers looking to offload their growing stash of takeout silverware. Although merchants most likely provide these items unasked as a form of customer service, the end result is anything but. The amount of plastic pushed out into the community daily is mind-boggling.

Therefore I was pretty darned excited to read this article by Ana Faguy in the Howard County Times:

The gist of it is laid out at the beginning of the article:

The Howard County Council passed the Plastics Reduction Act in a 4-1 vote Monday night, prohibiting the use of certain single-use plastic by restaurants and retailers.

The legislation, introduced last month by County Council member Christiana Mercer Rigby, Vice Chair Opel Jones and Chair Liz Walsh, aims to limit single-use plastic such as straws, stirrers and certain condiment packets in the county by requiring retailers and restaurants to supply alternatives and by asking before giving out condiment packets and plastic ware to customers.

The article details the process by which the bill moved forward, was negotiated, amended, and passed. It looks like there was some pushback from the restaurant industry, as well as some desire from Councilman Yungmann to delay taking action on the bill. In the end, while the bill that was passed was a compromise, it helps the county make significant progress in reducing plastic waste without burdening local merchants with an outright ban which could could cause economic hardship during already difficult economic times.

Local advocacy group Less Plastic Please HoCo celebrated the passage of the bill in a tweet which reads:




This is progress. And it is progress that should not be diluted or delayed. This photo from the Less Plastic Please HoCo Twitter feed says it all:

Just one more thing before I let you go:  does anyone need some plastic silverware and napkins?

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