Stores prepare for bag ban

MOUNT DESERT — The Freshies convenience store in Somesville isn’t waiting for voters at town meeting to decide whether to prohibit stores and restaurants from giving customers single-use plastic carryout bags for their purchases.

“We are getting rid of plastic bags and are just going to be giving out paper,” said store manager Kyle Holmes.

“We had someone deliver the ordinance proposal to us, so we just decided that for the sake of the town and the island, if that’s what they’re going to go with, then it’s not going to hurt us at all. So, we’re done with plastic as soon as we run out of what we have in inventory.”

Aaron Gray, owner of the Pine Tree Market in Northeast Harbor, said he has some mixed feelings about the proposed plastic bag ban.

“In general, from the environmental standpoint, we understand it and we’re for it,” he said. “We definitely understand the downside of plastic.”

Gray said paper bags are more expensive than plastic ones.

“But as long as there are affordable options, it’s not the end of the world by any means.

“One tricky thing for us is that, with my clientele in the summertime, there will be people who are really for getting rid of plastic. But there are also going to be people who think it really stinks. A lot of my clientele ride their bikes or they’re walking [to and from the market] and they love the handles.”

The town’s sustainability committee has proposed two ordinances aimed at reducing litter and harm to the environment. One would prohibit stores and restaurants from giving or selling plastic single-use carryout bags to customers. The other proposed ordinance states that no establishment in Mount Desert shall “serve or sell prepared food in…polystyrene (Styrofoam) food service containers.”

The board of selectmen has not yet voted to place the proposed ordinances on the warrant for the May 7 town meeting. But in November they indicated their strong support, voting for a motion by Selectman Rick Mooers in which he said, “This concept is absolutely wonderful.”

Members of the sustainability committee have talked about the proposed ban on plastic carryout bags with the owners of most of the stores in Mount Desert that use them.

“We haven’t had any major negative response,” committee member Gordon Beck told the selectmen earlier this month. “Most businesses understand that this is going to be happening one way or another.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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