When President Obama was asked how he felt about the recent election results, he replied, “Democracy is messy, there are times you’re disappointed,” and “It doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me.”
Obama’s comments lifted my spirits after the messy results of the recent November 4th Mercer County Bag Referendum. Sadly, the measure did not pass county-wide.
The degradation caused to the planet and eco-system by single use plastic bags and the environmental crisis that future generations will face is at this time simply undeniable. Furthermore, single use plastic bags are banned in many places all over the world, and this July 2015 will be banned across the entire state of California. I have never been more proud to live in Princeton, New Jersey or more energized to seek change than on November 5th when I received the final results. Princeton voters passed the referendum with an overwhelming majority of 4,274 to 2,385. In fact, every district with the exception of district 3 voted YES for the referendum!
I also am proud that our town of Princeton has earned Sustainable Jersey silver certification, and I commend us citizens for understanding the true value in pursing accolades that recognize the good work being done in the municipality. However, sustainability isn’t about meeting targets, it’s about changing values.
In 2011, I contributed to a draft ordinance to reduce plastic waste by banning single use plastic bags in Princeton. Many local merchants supported the ban, but it was not introduced for fear of backlash from others. Given the overwhelming support for the referendum, it is time to take local action. I still am concerned about the backlash I may receive, but know in my heart it is the right time. It takes courage to stand up and speak out for what one believes in, and I want to acknowledge Council woman Jenny Crumiler, Mayor Lempert, Council woman Heather Howard, and the Princeton Environmental Commission for publicly supporting the November 4th Bag Referendum. Legally the town Council cannot enact a bag fee but they can enact a bag ban, and I hope they will support one.
Like President Obama, I am not mopey, I am energized because I know that if we Princetonians can change our values and follow the rationale demonstrated by much of the world, we can lead the way on reducing single use plastics in New Jersey! It takes courage to open our minds and listen to new solutions to present problems, and I have every confidence that our elected officials and the people of Princeton can SAY YES to NO PLASTIC.