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Terry Cowgill
Railroad Street resident Steve Farina makes an unsuccessful pitch for the repeal of the plastic water bottle ban Tuesday night at the annual town meeting in the Monument Mountain Regional High School auditorium.

Second attempt to repeal Great Barrington’s plastic water bottle ban fails

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By Tuesday, May 7, 2019 News 7

Great Barrington — For the second time in less than a year, an attempt to repeal a ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles has failed, but not before a lot of drama. 

Railroad Street resident Steve Farina had previously petitioned to get the measure on the warrant for the annual town meeting that began last night (Monday, May 6)) in the Monument Mountain Regional High School auditorium, but at more than four hours, the meeting was so lengthy that it was continued to tonight (Tuesday, May 7).

More than a dozen speakers opined — some in favor of the repeal, some against it, some who appeared to be on the fence, and others who appealed for unity.

Proponents of keeping the ban, including members of the Berkshire Women’s Action Group that proposed the original ban, argued that the measure was an important first step in ridding the planet of the plastics that are made with fossil fuels and are contaminating the earth. They insisted that Great Barrington and the other towns in state that had passed the bans were showing invaluable leadership.

See video below of the discussion and vote on the proposed repeal of the plastic water bottle ban:

Opponents pointed to the economic hardship merchants face and the fact that the consumption of water should be encouraged in this era of sugary sodas. 

Great Barrington resident Julie Berger, who is disabled, spoke at length about the injustices suffered by the disability community. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Julie Berger, who is disabled, gave a long-winded but impassioned speech on what she said was the injustice of denying her and other disabled people access to the water bottles. But in the end, it did not matter.  

After about an hour of debate and argument over procedure, the show of hands against the repeal was overwhelming. Town clerk Marie Ryan said 468 residents attended the Monday meeting. One-third that number attended the Tuesday night session.

The ban was passed at the annual town meeting last year. An unsuccessful attempt at repeal was made about three months later. The ban has remained in place, though the selectboard had delayed enforcement because both opponents and supporters of the law indicated that all the details concerning water refilling stations and funding had not yet been worked out.


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7 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Wendy T. Linscott says:

    Hurrah! Well done, Great Barrington voters.

  2. Laura Keefner says:

    Wendy Kleinman owes Julie Berger an apology for telling her she was not a victim. How dare she? Julie had just as much right, if not more , to voice her opinion. Job well done Julie. Shame on Wendy.

    1. Jerry says:

      Couldn’t agree more with the idea that some people have more right to voice an opinion than others. No one likes to say it outright but we all think it.

  3. Laura C says:

    couldn’t that camera have been positioned anywhere else?

  4. Arthur Dellea says:

    Plastic water bottle banning is ridiculous… are we all supposed to drink beverages out of plastic bags? Will such a ban prevent an endless number of glass bottles from being smashed along the roads in front of our houses? I think not! One thing I feel that the whole county should focus on is “Unlimited Bottle Recycling”. Have you ever gone to the grocery store to recycle bottles only to find that the place does not accept a third of the bottles because you bought them somewhere else and they don’t sell that brand? To me that is absolutely ridiculous! Every store that sells bottles should have machines that recycle them, and every machine should be programmed to recycle ALL brands of bottles, including water bottles, despite what the store sells…. this will surely help to cut down on improper disposal and to increase recycling!

    1. DB says:

      Reduce, reuse, then recycle. In that order.

    2. Jennifer Clark says:

      This bylaw addresses the overuse of single use plastic Unfortunately, recycling is not a panacea for the situation we are in as it requires a tremendous amount of energy. Additionally, only about 20% of PET plastic reaches a plant where it is down cycled into carpeting, fleece, etc. The rest gets plowed into a landfill or burned. That’s why conservation ie not consuming it in the first place is the best of the available solutions.

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