October 2019 | Special Edition - Providence Goes Green
Special Message From
City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan
Dear Neighbors,
Welcome to a special edition of the Providence City Council Newsletter!
I am happy to announce that on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 Providence goes plastic bag free! As Majority Leader and the lead sponsor of this initiative I wanted to reach out to you directly to share why the Plastic Bag Reduction Act is so important to us as a city, and as a global society.
There is no future in plastics. These days, it’s hard not to think about plastic. It’s impossible to get through a day without either going to the grocery store and being asked, “Paper or Plastic?” or simply heading down the street and seeing a plastic bag blowing around like a tumbleweed.

We use over 95 million plastic bags annually just in the City of Providence alone. That’s a very real problem, not simply for the litter these bags create in our neighborhoods, but because these bags come with a very real cost. There’s the nearly $1 million the city spends yearly in rejected recycling loads largely due to the presence of plastic bags in our recycling barrels. Additionally, these bags often end up in Narragansett Bay and other area waterways, where they break into smaller pieces called microplastics. Those microplastics pose a deadly threat to sea life, and Clean Water Action has found that they are now a serious source of contamination in the Bay.

Back in the 1980’s, Save The Bay identified excessive levels of phosphorous and nitrogen, along with storm water toxins, as dangerous pollutants. They enacted policies to control the nutrients and reduce the toxins that were threatening the future of a vital resource for our state.

Effective action was taken then and that is why it was so imperative that we take action now to address this growing threat to our environment.

The production, use, and disposal of plastic checkout bags have significant adverse impacts on the environment and are a serious economic burden to the city's solid waste disposal and single-stream recycling systems. Reducing plastic checkout bags will help to curb litter on our streets and in our waterways, protect the marine environment, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Earlier this year, I introduced an ordinance to reduce our reliance on plastic bags, which was passed unanimously by the City Council on Earth Day, April 22, 2019, and signed into law by Mayor Jorge O. Elorza on May 1, 2019. It was the result of over two years of collaboration with Clean Water Action , Conservation Law Foundation , Zero Waste Providence , the City’s Office of Sustainability , and other community partners.

The Providence Plastic Bag Reduction Act, modeled on similar laws and best practices enacted in Boston and other municipalities and states across the country, will:
  • Significantly reduce the use of plastic bags in Providence.
  • Exempt certain dry cleaning and laundry bags, as well as those used to wrap or contain frozen foods.
  • Allow businesses to be able to use its supply of plastic bags.
  • Require the City's Office of Sustainability to conduct a comprehensive public education and outreach initiative to ensure that residents and businesses are properly informed. And requires regular reporting to the City Council on Program effectiveness.

We’ve crafted a plan that is designed to minimize the impact on consumers and retailers and maximize the effectiveness of the law by saving money, protecting our environment, and improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
This may cause some inconvenience as any change of habit does, but because whatever they may have said in the movie “ The Graduate ," the future is most definitely not in plastics.

Jo-Ann Ryan, Majority Leader
Providence City Council
Councilwoman - Ward 5
What's Next for the Plastic Bag Reduction Act
Stop & Shop Gives Back
The First 300 Shoppers at Each Providence
Stop & Shop Stores Will Get a
Free Reusable Bag
On Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Stop & Shop, the area's largest grocery retailer, has embraced the City’s Plastic Bag Reduction Act and will be offering free reusable shopping bags to the first 300 customers at each of their locations in Providence. 

We are grateful that they have been a supportive partner in this process, and have been so willing to ensure that those who need a reusable bag can have access to them!  
Eastside Marketplace
115 Pitman Street
Providence, RI
Stop & Shop
333 West River Street
Providence, RI
Stop & Shop
850 Manton Avenue
Providence, RI
Have a Bag - Need a Bag
Reusable Bag Exchange
If you have clean reusable bags that you are no longer using, you can drop them off at one of the Providence Community Library locations. There, individuals who may need a bag can get one at no cost. Donate your extra bags !

Find the Community Library closest to you: Providence Community Library Locations
Why You Should Make The Switch
5 Reasons to Say No To
Plastic Bags
  1. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
  2. The average American family takes home almost 1,500 shopping bags a year.
  3. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
  4. More than 1,000,000 marine animals, birds, and other wildlife are killed by plastic bags annually.
  5. It takes at least 500 years for plastic bags to degrade.
Looking for Reusable Bags?
Looking for some cool re-usable bags? Here’s an interesting list from Business Insider which includes bags at all different prices.

Amazon shopper? Here's some options that you might enjoy!
Perhaps you like more interesting bags that are unique, creative, or hand crafted? Check out Etsy for some cool options.
There are lots of options for reusable shopping bags at every price point!
You can grab them at your local grocery store or other local retailers.
Your choices are endless!
Other Ways to Cut Down on Our Dependence on Plastics
Make the switch to reusable sandwich bags. There are lots of company's that are making these products. Check out (re)zip - they have some cool options!

Make the switch from plastic wrap to something more sustainable, like this product from Bees Wrap .

Get a reusable non-plastic water bottle! From Yeti , HydroFlask , to ones you can get at Stop & Shop , Target and Walmart the options are endless!

Say no to plastic straws! Today there are a lot of options instead of the traditional plastic straws - from reusable metal straws to even paper. In the US alone we use 500 million plastic straws daily, that aren’t recycled. Check these ones out from Amazon - where you can get a set of 8 for $6.89.

Don’t use plastic bags for produce or bulk groceries, there are several options like these from EarthEasy .

Meet Your City Councilor
Providence is separated into 15 distinct Wards, each a unique and dynamic community. We believe that access to your Councilor is paramount.

By clicking on the link below you will be able to learn more about your Councilor, and have the opportunity to send them an email to share your thoughts or concerns.
Upcoming Meetings, Public Hearings and Special Events
Open Meetings Portal
If you want to find information about past, present and future meetings than the open meetings portal is a must. Using the below link you can access meeting minutes, agendas, documents, videos and other useful information at the click of a button.
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©Providence City Council 2019