In a little more than a year, the way you shop in Vermont is going to change. Gov. Phil Scott has signed the toughest ban in the country on single-use plastic items.
The new law targets plastic grocery bags, disposable plastic straws…and expanded polystyrene, those foam packing peanuts you might use in a shipping box to protect a fragile item. The ban will take effect on July 1st, 2020.
The manager of Sagarmatha Grocery in Winooski tells us he’s all for it. He wants the Green Mountain State to remain green and cut down on trash, but a plastics ban may not go far enough for him. He says he wants paper bags to be banned, too.
“We want to be forced to ban plastic bags because the environment is really, really bad,” Nil Gihimire said. “They will provide, all the people, their own bags.”
Gihimire says he doesn’t only feel this way for environmental reasons; he says there’s also an economic motive.
“If you carry your own bag, you can save the money for buying,” he said. “They have to ban as soon as possible. We save the money, you save the money. You save your health, we save your health.”
He claims that if stores like his don’t have to buy any bags for their customers, they might be able to purchase new kinds of inventory that they don’t currently offer.
“That money, you can invest in other parts,” Gihimire said. “You can make the money, you know? We didn’t sell any kind of vegetables for you guys because you have to carry a handbag, something like that, you know?”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a plastic bag ban into law in April, but the Empire State ban won’t affect straws and polystyrene like the Vermont law.
Rebecca Kelley, communications director for Gov. Scott, told us Monday:
“The Governor is unavailable this evening, and while I don’t have a comment from him specifically on the signing, I can tell you what he’s said throughout the session, which is that given the overwhelming, bipartisan support from the Legislature and having not heard opposition from the retailers who will be impacted, he expected to sign it.”
We also reached out to co-op grocery stores across much of Vermont for comment on this story. Officials with some of those co-ops did not return our calls. Those who did were unavailable Monday evening.