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Comments of Local, Independent Businesses in Watertown on the Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance to Reduce Distribution of Single-use Plastic Bags

Don Levy, Deluxe Town Diner:
We try to do as much in non plastic as we can. The T-shirt bags, or carry out ones are the right size for 1-2 takeout orders and help in the rain and snow, but it is not the only way. There are other possibilities, though a lot more expensive. We try not to give bags on many takeout orders and give only if required for leftovers after a meal. We do use paper for large orders. Our servers might be too busy to remind people who order take out to carry their own bags.

Other wraps are more expensive but we've been doing alternatives and it is possible. If there is enough pressure on the petroleum product producers, prices [profits] will come down and usage will be less. We use compostable paper for many take outs already. All different size paper bags are available, while one size plastic carry outs are not always called for. If the big stores do it everyone will. It is easy for them, so others will follow.

We would be in favor of a plastic ban ordinance to reduce plastic use and encourage the town to enact one as other towns have done.

Susan Etyemezian, Fastachi:
We changed over to paper partly for the environment and partly because of a brand image, what we feel our company wants to be. When it rains we use plastic to protect the gift boxes. Plastic is much cheaper, from pennies to 40 cents depending on size. A lot of people come in with their own bags. We also use cellophane and shrink wrap and pouches made from reycled materials. But paper is the best for our image.

Christine O’Shea, Danish Pastry House:
Boxes and paper bags are the most economical in small quantities. We use paper coffee cups also to try to do our best. We have always used paper because it is practical and customers prefer it. We use plastic occasionally for large orders, but would substitute with paper.

Harry Basmajian, Arax Market, Coolidge Square:
Mr Basmajian says that he is in support of a regulation to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in Watertown:
It is a key to the future. All the other cities and towns around us are doing it. We might as well get onto the path to get it done. It will be necessary sooner, or later. It costs Arax Market [close to] $10,000 every six months to purchase plastic carryout bags [given at checkout by the cashier]. The environment depends on us. We're smart enough people to know what is right. There are bags everywhere. It is only going to get worse. What do you do with the plastic bags after you are done with them? We use so much, and watch them accumulate. It is a habit. If you keep a bunch of reusable bags in the car, you just have to develop the habit. Once you have done that, it becomes second nature.

Tony Russo, Russo’s:
We are all for reducing plastic. It is best practices, part of the precedents of retail business. We want to find a way so there is no critical burden for ourselves, or our customers. We don’t want to offend people who don’t want it. I talked with a young farmer from Allendale Farms in Brookline on how to solve the bag problem. Reusable bags—canvas is expensive, but there are cheap strong ones. [Russo's sells custom made reusable bags.] We already offer paper to those who ask, at no extra charge. They are quite a bit more expensive. We buy plastic by the millions and would prefer to get cheaper reusable bags. I would purchase the [one Belmont-Watertown Local First designed] and will speak with [staff] to make it happen.
We will put the Rethink Plastic! reminder posters at the registers. I'll have to think about the parking lot…...

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