Why you can't buy single


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Jun 28, 2023

Why you can't buy single

HINGHAM – Usually, when you leave your house, you try not to forget your keys

HINGHAM – Usually, when you leave your house, you try not to forget your keys and wallet.

Hingham residents now might want to take a reusable water bottle with them too.

Voters at town meeting April 24 approved a ban on the commercial sale or distribution of single-use plastic water bottles under a gallon. Hingham joins 24 of the 351 communities in Massachusetts that have already taken action against single-use plastic water bottles, including Arlington, Concord, Lincoln, 11 towns on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

First responders are exempt from Hingham's ban. No single-use plastic water bottles will be sold or distributed in Hingham schools or any public buildings. The commercial ban starts Jan. 1, 2024.

Tina Sherwood, a member of the advisory committee that voted to support the ban, said the Jan. 1 date will give local merchants time to sell their existing stock and to switch to recyclable alternatives.

"Carrying a reusable water bottle will become a habit, like bringing our bags to the grocery store, and alternative single-use recyclable options will be available at our stores," she said. "We all know behavior change is hard, but we have to decide if the simple convenience of a plastic water bottle is worth the overwhelming amount of waste and emissions they create."

Sherwood said the bottles have become a climate and pollution crisis and the statistics are "staggering." Single-use plastic is being created more than ever before.

Sherwood said she brought up the bylaw to her mom, who is going to be 97 this summer.

"While I tried to explain it, she made a real effort to listen. All the gears clicked, and she hit me with, 'Is Hingham's water undrinkable?'"

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Sherwood said Hingham's water is great and her mother suggested drinking water out of the tap. Sherwood's mother said it would be a waste to pay for water.

"She couldn't fathom paying for single-use plastic water bottles," Sherwood said.

Lyndsey Kruzer, an advisory committee member who opposed the ban, said the bylaw doesn't just hit retail establishments but also sports organizations and arts vendors.

"Take, for example, a snack stand for sports games at Carlson Field. ... If the snack stands sells a child a plastic bottle of water, it could be fined under this bylaw. However, if the same snack stand sells a child a Mountain Dew, perfectly fine. Personally, I can't get behind a bylaw that has this nonsensical effect."

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Stores and people who sell the product would be subject to the following fines:

Cleaner Greener Hingham Chair Maria Zade said the fines would be based on complaint-based enforcement. There would be no routine inspections.

Cleaner Greener Hingham is partnering with the Weir River Water Association to install two more public water filling stations and applied for a grant to install a third station. The locations will be Cronin Field, Lynch Field and the fields at Hingham High School. The water will be free to the public.

Dustin Staley, a manager at the Trader Joe's at the Hingham Shipyard, said he understands the idea of the ban, but will be concerned about people without a vehicle or commuters on public transportation who may forget their reusable bottle and may want to stop at a grocery store to grab a bottle of water.

"It's not the consumer's fault," Staley said.

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