Watershed Institute officials are encouraging businesses and residents in Hopewell Borough to move away from single-use plastic bags by distributing more than 700 reusable bags.
This effort began this previous summer through an educational program organized by the Watershed Institute.
Hopewell Borough’s council enacted an ordinance to create an educational program when they outlawed single-use plastic carryout bags in 2018.
The ordinance, which was approved by the Hopewell Borough Council, allows stores to hand out recyclable paper bags or provide reusable bags to customers for free or for a small charge.
The council on Jan. 2 voted unanimously to have the ban go into effect on April 22, Earth Day.
“I am still continuing to give out reusable bags to businesses in town. We have so far given out between 650-700 reusable bags to businesses directly. In addition to the reusable bags directly to businesses, we have handed out between 100-150 directly to residents,” Watershed River-Friendly Coordinator Erin Landis said.
She explained that the educational program to encourage reusable bags is continuing in 2020.
“The next thing we will be doing is posting signs up in Hopewell Borough, that will remind residents to use their reusable bag. We want to try and get people into the habit of bringing their reusable bags when they go shopping,” Landis said. “We hear from a lot of people that they do have reusable bags, but it is hard to change you habit. To actually get people to bring them to the store is the hardest part.”
According to Watershed Institute officials, already several businesses have posted placards in their windows with similar reminders.
Residents can pick up a reusable bag at the Village Express, Michael’s Bakery and Deli, Hopewell Valley Bistro and Inn, China Wok, Hopewell House Wines and Liquors, Tomatillos, Hopewell Pharmacy and Hopewell Theater.
“I think there is a growing awareness about the problems of our throw away culture and what the true impacts are on the environment. I love what we are doing, because I think that people are changing their habits and making an impact,” Landis said. “The municipalities are hearing people and responding to the grassroots effort.”
Businesses have not run out of bags, according to Landis.
“I have communicated to the businesses that if they are out of bags, they should contact me to restock. We still do have bags that we are handing out,” Landis said.
For more information about the reusable bags or the educational program, visit www.thewatershed.org.