We're pleased to report that, as of 13 July 2020, the COVID-19 related emergency ban on reusable bags and suspension of at least 139 local bag laws in Massachusetts has now been lifted!
The reusable bag ban and suspension of local bag laws were initially put in place by a 25 March 2020 order issued by Mass Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.
As the state cautiously began its multi-phase reopening plan, the Surfrider Foundation MA Chapter initially submitted written comments to Gov. Baker and the Reopening Advisory Board, and sent a letter to Commissioner Bharel, making a science-backed case that allowing reusable bags and encouraging customers to bag their own purchases would be entirely consistent with the critical goals of protecting both worker health and the environment. The latest science does not and did not support banning reusable bags as an effective or necessary measure for public health.
Later on, in early July, the chapter initiated an Action Alert to help interested individuals contact the DPH Commissioner and the Governor's office about this issue and to add their voices to this call. We greatly appreciate the support of everyone who took part in this Action Alert!
In this campaign, we were also fortunate to have been part of a broad and growing coalition of both individuals and organizations from across the Commonwealth. We're especially grateful to our friends at MassPIRG, from Girl Scout Troop 68277 (Dorchester, MA), from all across the Mass Green Network, and many others for joining together and helping to get this ban lifted.
Once again allowing reusable bags and letting municipalities enforce their own duly-passed local waste reduction laws is a significant step towards getting Massachusetts back on track towards a better new normal.
Our chapter will be closely monitoring further developments and will continue our work towards the inseparable goals of advocating for public health and the environment well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information or to learn how you can get on board with the Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter to protect and enjoy the ocean, waves, and beaches, please get in touch!