An environmental group is again asking voters to ban the sale of single-use plastic bottles on municipal property.
The proposal is one of three citizens petitions that will be included in the warrant for a Special Town Meeting on October 28.
The ban would specifically prohibit the town from purchasing or selling beverages in small, or “single-use,” plastic bottles, according to the petition that was submitted by a group called Sustainable Practices, which is based in Brewster.
Six Cape Cod towns have already enacted such bylaws, said Mary Cotes, a Sandwich resident and member of Sustainable Practices.
“It’s coming. It’s just a matter of when,” Ms. Cotes said, referring to a ban on plastic bottles. “We’re hoping we have enough people in favor of it at the Town Meeting.”
Ms. Cotes and other group members have explained in letters and discussions that plastics are polluting the oceans, cluttering the landscape and harming wildlife. Recycling efforts are not enough to rid the environment of containers that never biodegrade, the group says.
“Banning single-use bottles on a municipal level is a good place to start. The purpose of government is to protect the public welfare, which is why we, Sustainable Practices, are calling on local governments to support the Municipal Plastic Bottle Ban,” the group wrote in a letter to the Enterprise last month.
The Sandwich municipal ban would also include the schools, where advocates for the proposal have been actively seeking approvals and signatures from students, teachers and administrators.
A similar ban was proposed at the May Town Meeting, but voters postponed a decision, saying the wording of the petition was unclear, as were the methods for enacting such a ban.
Last week the board of selectmen gave a lukewarm reception to a Sustainable Practices presentation. The selectmen said they remained puzzled about how the ban would be enacted and whether it would have much effect on reducing pollution.
Nevertheless, Ms. Cotes said, she and the other group members are hoping to convince the voters that the ban would improve the health of the community and even save the town money in recycling costs.
“As a citizen, woman, mother, and grandmother, I feel this is the least I can do to bring about awareness of the greatness of this problem, so that my grandchildren may still enjoy this great planet,” Ms. Cotes said. “Human convenience is an expense the environment cannot afford.”
Another citizens petition asks that the proposed senior center—the Center for Active Living—be an environmentally friendly building.
Specifically, the petition asks that the Center For Active Living be constructed with “alternative energy components necessary to achieve net zero emissions.”
That means, presumably, that the building would be powered by wind and solar energy and would be specially insulated to retain heat in the winter and air-conditioned air in the summer.
Petitioner Ann Shea of Sea Meadow Drive estimates that such environmentally conscious construction would add about $3 million to the building’s $16.5 million price tag.
Ms. Shea declined to be interviewed for this story but did send a letter to the editor outlining the reasons why she authored the petition.
“I certainly don’t claim to be on level with Robert Mueller, but, like him, I don’t feel that it should be necessary for me to say anything else about what I’ve submitted to town meeting,” Ms. Shea said in her letter to the Enterprise. “The only people who wouldn’t understand the petition’s purpose are climate change deniers or those who stand to profit from ignoring the evidence of climate change.”
Ms. Shea said that because the town plans to use payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) funds to pay for the construction of the proposed senior center, it should ensure that the building is environmentally correct.
The power plant’s “tax agreement with the town is going to take in $57 million over the next 20 years! I think the least we can do is make an effort to ameliorate the global damage Canal 3 will cause over the next 40 years of its existence,” Ms. Shea wrote.
David J. Sampson, chairman of the board of selectmen, said recently that it would not be practical to include such environmental restrictions on the proposal at this point.
The town will be asking the voters at a Special Town Meeting on October 28 to approve a $20 million funding package—$16 million for the senior center and $3 million for renovating the existing library building on Main Street.
Ms. Shea, formerly a member of the library board of trustees, said she resigned from the board because she does not believe the library and the senior center should be included together in one warrant article.
In a separate citizens petition, Ms. Shea is asking that the voters appropriate $1,000 to form an 11-member green committee, known as the Net Zero Volunteer Task Force to “Develop strategies, plans and recommendations to achieve within 5 to 30 years and annual balance of zero greenhouse gas emissions from building operations.”
The overall goal, Ms. Shea wrote, is “eliminating Sandwich’s dependence on fossil fuels, including electricity generated by the fossil-fuel-burning Canal Power Plant as long as it continues to burn fossil fuels.”