Ban Polluting Plastic Materials Locally

no plastic bags

Target: Cambridge Director of Environmental Health Sam Lipson

Goal: Urge the City of Cambridge to follow nearby Brookline’s lead by banning disposable plastic bags and polystyrene containers

The city of Brookline recently implemented a ban on single-use plastic bags and polystyrene (styrofoam) food and beverage containers, with provisions for companies to use their existing inventories of these items so as to gradually transition away from their use. Other cities in Massachusetts also have plastic bag bans on the books, including Great Barrington, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Nantucket. Somerville also recently approved a ban on polystyrene. In Brookline, according to The Boston Globe, “[Local director of public health and human services Alan] Balsam said that while he has told retailers they can use up their current stock of disposable plastic bags before switching to acceptable alternatives, most grocery stores and pharmacies are on board with the bag ban.”

A similar plan in nearby Cambridge could work just as effectively, and have a positive effect on local environmental health. The 100 billion plastic bags consumed every year in the United States use up about 12 million barrels of oil, do not biodegrade, and can only be recycled at an exorbitant cost. Polystyrene containers are cost-effective, but cause litter issues because the material is difficult to break down, and it is so light that the wind can carry it easily.

Numerous cities and counties have already implemented polystyrene bans, the most recent being New York City, and not just for environmental reasons; using polystyrene takeout containers could expose consumers to chemicals in their food due to the hot steam melting the material. Many companies, including coffee giant Dunkin’ Donuts, are looking to transition away from polystyrene, but predict they are a few years away from perfecting a new eco-friendly cup. Measures such as the one being implemented in Brookline provide more impetus for companies who use plastic bags and polystyrene products to research better alternatives.

By signing this petition, you are calling on the city of Cambridge to follow the example of other communities who have banned polystyrene containers and single-use plastic bags for the health and safety of their citizens and environment.


Dear Director Lipson,

As you may know, our neighbor city of Brookline has begun implementing their ban on polystyrene containers and disposable plastic bags. This kind of legislation protects citizens from the negative effects of pollution that come from the production of these materials, as well as from chemical exposure due to leakage into food from takeout containers. It also protects our environment by reducing our consumption of materials that are costly and time-consuming to recycle, and that often end up polluting our air, waterways, green spaces, and city streets. The Cambridge City Council has called for legislation on the issue of plastic bags, but more comprehensive measures are necessary to encourage local businesses and consumers to find greener alternatives.

I am calling on you to draft and support legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags as well as polystyrene containers and packing materials. I urge you to encourage consumers to make eco-friendly decisions, from bringing their own reusable bags to buying products that use recycled or recyclable materials.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: nist6dh via Flickr

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334 Signatures

  • Alice Rim
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