Making It Easy to Go Without Plastic Bags

Cynthia Whitty
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

Ashland’s plastic bag ban bylaw will go into effect on July 26, when the town will join 80 other Massachusetts’ cities and towns that ban single-use plastic bags.
What is being done to help with this transition? The town’s Sustainability Committee and high school students are working on solutions.
“We learned early on in our research that one of the concerns from other towns that have switched to reusable bags is the expense for low-income residents,” Matt Marshquist, Ashland’s Sustainability chair, said. “We didn’t want price to be an obstacle for residents in adopting reusable bags. We [the Sustainability Committee] have set out to create free, reusable bags that would allow residents to reduce their impact and display their Ashland Pride at the same time.”
This spring the Sustainability Committee received two grants in support of this initiative: a Board of Selectmen BAA (Boston Athletic Association) grant and a New England Grassroots Environment Fund grant. Most of those funds were applied towards the purchase of 1,700 reusable bags, with a small amount remaining to print posters to provide to businesses. The limited-edition bags will be distributed at the Ashland Food Pantry, the Ashland Farmers Market and small retail businesses throughout Ashland the week before the plastic bag bylaw goes into effect.
The project to provide free, reusable bags received a generous dose of creativity from the graphic design class at Ashland High School (AHS) this past spring. Art teacher Leah Marshquist led students in an exploration of logo and product design, which included creating a design for a reusable bag that would show Ashland pride and pride in protecting the planet. The students submitted their artwork, along with a written description of the concept and their process for creating it to the Sustainability Committee. The committee selected Giovanna De Pinho’s design, which included a logo treatment for “BYOBA” (Bring Your Own Bag, Ashland! There is no planet B.) and an illustration of a half earth with a whale tail rising out of the ocean.
De Pinho’s statement about her design:
The tree seedling transmits right away the idea that the organization is involved with our environment. It also represents hope that we can grow as human beings and help this planet as result.
The half earth and the whale represent our decisions affecting the world as a whole. We are reducing plastic waste with the intention to save our whales but soon, the precautions that we made will definitely help other species.
Reducing the use of plastic bags in our state is such a big deal! We are taking care of a local issue and demonstrating gratitude towards what marine life has to offer us.