Toms River senior citizen and resident Bill McPhail said what many people in Toms River have been thinking and saying on social media since the township proposed a ban on single use plastic bags….who the hell only uses those bags once?
If you step into any kitchen or pantry in Toms River, you’ll probably find a drawer or cabinet full of yellow Shop-Rite bags ready to be used for whatever task is needed when you need it.
Need a bag for Johnny’s school project? Carrying a few items to a relative’s house? Picking up your dog’s business outside? Maybe just a cost-effective reusable liner for a small garbage can in your office. McPhail reinforced to the council that few people use those bags once. Often they get a second chance at life and sometimes, even a third life.
McPhail asked the council to define single use plastic bags.
Councilwoman Laurie Huryk who championed the ban said, “Single use plastic bags would be the thin plastic bags you get from the grocery store that you can only use once and start splitting…and also includes paper. Multiuse would be those heavier plastic or cotton bags you can bring back to the store and use over and over again.”
“I think that’s a misnomer,” McPhail said. “I go to Shop Rite and get my plastic bags and they’re not single use, I put them in my garbage.”
McPhail also criticized the councilwoman’s ban of paper bags.
“You ask for a ban on paper bags, my God don’t you recycle those? We’re talking about single use, I don’t think I ever saw a plastic bag single use,” he said. “Those $10 bunches of hefty bags you put in your garbage can, that’s single use. It’s a pretty dumb thing when we all use our plastic bags over and over again.”
McPhail said he was more worried about the plastic newspaper bags thrown on driveways that often make their way into the woods and the township sewer system as being a bigger danger to the environment.
“My newspaper, they use plastic bags and throw them in the gutter and in the water. I guess they’re single use,” he said.
Huryk intervened to explain that her concern was for the environment.
“So it’s not 100% of every bag that’s in use, there are exceptions for certain use, perhaps the newspapers can be those,” she backpeddled. “They end up in the waterways and ocean and kill a lot of wildlife. The process of making a paper bag is intenstive on the environment. Pollution isn’t a one solution problem. That’s one thing we can do is reduce our use of single use plastics.”
She even admitted she also uses her single use bags multiple times.
“You’re only thinking like an environmentalist,” McPhail said. “We have more to worry about in our life than plastic bags.”
“I don’t think we should ban anything,” said Councilman Dan Rodrick.
The ordinance was rejected at the last town council meeting in a 5-4 vote.