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Keep the plastic water bottle ban: Changing times, climate require adjustments by residents, business owners alike

In their letter Chris and Matt Massiero, owners of Guido's Fresh Marketplace write: "As small-business owners, we are in the unique position to make business decisions that can change the future, both for our present community and all the future generations we hope will inherit this planet.

To the Editor:

In May 2013 when Great Barrington residents voted to ban plastic bags, we were unsure of how the transition would go at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. How would customers respond? Would they remember to bring their reusable bags with them? What would visitors to the Berkshires do? How would the increased cost of paper bags over plastic affect our bottom line? But we embraced the change, not just because of the vote, but because we knew it was the right direction. Shortly after we implemented the ban in Great Barrington, we chose to get rid of plastic bags in our Pittsfield store as well. Our customers showed up in droves with their own reusable bags. Visitors responded with positive feedback, congratulating the town for its forward thinking. Five years later, it’s hard to remember life before the ban. We keep the stores stocked with paper bags, but very few customers use them. Each year that we run a plastic bag-free store, we take 850,000 plastic bags out of circulation. Habits changed, we adjusted and our town made an investment in the future.

Now we have the opportunity to do our small part in making another positive change. This time, the ban affects a product on our shelves and the adjustment will be a greater one. Still, we look forward to making this change. We are looking at new options for water vending, inexpensive reusable bottles and additional responsible adjustments in our Great Barrington store that will smooth our transition to a location that no longer sells single-use water bottles. Our goal as a business is to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic overall, and this will be one in a succession of changes we will make in this direction over the coming years.

We are entirely on board with the plan to ban single-use water bottles. How can we not be? It’s a small change but the right move forward. Yes, it will be an adjustment. Yes, we will lose sales on water. But as small-business owners, we are in the unique position to make business decisions that can change the future, both for our present community and all the future generations we hope will inherit this planet. We recognize that the passage of this ban may be a hardship to other local vendors with which we have longstanding partnerships, and our hope is that we can find new ways to all move forward together as the water business changes in Great Barrington. We are grateful to the residents of this community for providing the direction and impetus to better ourselves and our business yet again, and our hope is that the “no” vote to repeal the ban Monday, Aug. 6, is as strong as the “yes” vote was at the annual town meeting.

Let’s move forward together. We urge you to vote “no” on the repeal of the bottle ban Monday, Aug. 6.

Chris and Matt Masiero

The writers are owners of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.

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