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Town Bans Restaurant Plastic; RTM Rep Offers Thanks

Last night, the RTM voted unanimously to ban single-use plastic cups, straws, stirrers and Styrofoam materials used in food services. 

Westport is believed to be the first municipality on the East Coast with such a ban. More than 10 years ago, we were the first one east of the Mississippi River to enact a plastic bag ban. (Click here for a full report on last night’s action from WestportNow.)

The ordinance was championed by RTM representative Andrew Colabella. Today, he sent this report to “06880”:

Once again, the Minuteman town is monumental in not only tackling, but leading, on a global issue: plastics.

There is plastic everywhere. Meat wrapped in Saran Wrap is placed on Styrofoam. What happened to cut and wrapped in paper? Single use plastic cups — what about paper, cardboard, glass, metal?

Single use to-go containers. What happened to Fold-Pak containers that could be easily disposed of and recycled? What happened to all these products that if disposed of properly, would biodegrade and have little to no adverse effect on the environment? I have no answer.

Plastic straws are everywhere.

While we were sleeping, trucks delivered goods to establishments in plastic packaging one day and we didn’t take notice. If we did, we made a comment about the amount of plastic, and went on with our day.

Our habits have become dangerous. For one week, I saved every piece of plastic that I used from food containers to bottles, even wrappers.

Anxiety settled in. This toxic product that I have become so dependent on had given corporations and manufacturers the upper hand, and control of the leash.

Now we consumers are taking back control. Towns and cities reduce, reuse and refuse.

As some may know, a number of Asian countries once purchased our plastics. That has stopped. They are stockpiled and making their way into rivers, tributaries and oceans. They create large garbage whirlpools, killing the animals we co-exist with.

Coleytown Elementary School’s 5th grade workshop class urged the RTM to enact a Styrofoam ban.

Last night, historically, with the support of co-sponsors, including Senator Will Haskell, Senator Tony Huang, Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Sustainable Westport, Plastic Pollution Project “P3” (Wendy Batteau, Greg Naughton, Liz Milwe and Ashley Moran), selectmen Jim Marpe, Jen Tooker and Melissa Kane,  students from across the school district, Alicia Mozian of Conservation Commission, and former RTM members who passed the plastic bag ban 10 years ago, we led the East Coast in banning single use plastics.

It was a tremendous challenge, but rewarding and fun. I made my way through food establishments over the past year, working with individuals like Mark and Lois Backon and Tommy Febbraio of Pearl at Longshore, David Griswold (Mystic Market), Steve Carpentieri (Dunville’s), Matt Storch (March Burger Lobster), Kevin Conte (Parker Mansion), the Mioli brothers (Westport Pizzeria), and many more.

But passing the ordinance is just one step. My next step is to continue visiting establishments and working with our merchants to find alternatives, save and cut costs, reducing and refusing policy, and enticing the public to shop local and preserve Westport.

Andrew Colabella (left) posed with fellow environmental activists after last night’s RTM vote. From left: Alicia Mozian, Samantha Henske, Ashley Moran, Tony McDowell, Liz Milwe, Pippa Bell Ader, Jack Egan.

To my co-sponsors –Ellen Lautenberg, Nicole Klein,, Cathy Talmadge, Carla Rea, Louis Mall, Lois Schine, Wendy Batteau, Mark Friedman, Kristan Hamlin, Catherine Calise Jack Klinge and Jeff Wieser — thank you for supporting and believing in me.

To the Ordinance Committee — Brandi Briggs, Lauren Karpf, Peter Gold, Kristen Schneeman. Christine Meiers Schatz and Lee Arthurs — thank you for professionalism and time to take your intelligence and legal expertise to help craft and edit the ordinance.

To the other RTM representatives who voted in favor of this: You made this possible.

I also thank Ashley Moran for inviting me into her classroom to speak to her students, and observe the school compost.

Also Liz Milwe, for inviting me into her home and helping, working, teaching and being a mom figure outside of my home.

Finally, to my family who stayed up late at night to watch history being made. Love to my mom, dad, sister and Roxy.

It takes a village to clean a village. But it takes a town to lead the rest of the world.

Step one completed!

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