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Forum, April 19: Time to drop the ban on reusable shopping bags

Published: 4/18/2021 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 4/18/2021 10:00:06 PM
Time to drop the ban on reusable shopping bags

I thought it was very ironic that the current issue of the weekly Co-op News (a publication of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society) had an excellently written article by Laurie Gelb, the Co-op’s member engagement specialist, about reducing the use of plastics. I wholeheartedly agree, and had been doing most of these suggestions — and more — until COVID-19 hit.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and many other states and municipalities, saw fit to ban the use of reusable containers and produce and bulk bags last spring. Despite no evidence that these measures in any way truly mitigate the spread of COVID-19, these rules are still in place in both New Hampshire and Vermont.

Most of the article’s suggestions would require a lifting of these and other bans. For example: Get your take-out coffee or food in your own cup or container? Um, I was doing that before COVID-19, and even then some places refused to allow me to do so. I can only imagine how long it will take businesses to feel comfortable doing this again.

Lift the mask mandate but still not allow “scoop bins” at co-ops? No reusable containers or bags? Plastic lobbies must pay good money to our lawmakers. Big Plastic is a thing.

I strongly urge the Co-op Food Stores, and all co-ops near and far, to lobby to bring back reusable containers in their stores and for bulk scoop bins to once again be allowed in New Hampshire. I have consumed so much more plastic in the last year, and I think most of it was totally unnecessary.



Working toward consensus for Hartland

I am running for re-election to the Hartland Selectboard. It has been my great privilege for more than 15 years to serve as a member of the board. We’re all elected as individuals but must function as a team, with our only agenda the best interests of the town.

Over the years, I have served with board members whose opinions I did not always share but always respected. I appreciate hearing different perspectives and then working toward a consensus so that we can present a solid, cohesive plan to Hartlanders for any number of projects. The work is certainly not glamorous, usually dealing with roads and dog disputes. But I enjoy the civic engagement and giving back to the town that has given me and my family so much.

Please consider voting for me when you open your ballot.



Mary O’Brien is helpful, selfless

I will happily and gratefully cast my ballot for Mary O’Brien for Hartland Selectboard.

O’Brien has been helpful every time I have had to call on her, from helping me register my housebound grandmother to vote when I first moved here, to supporting the budget for the town institutions I depend on, to finding the people I needed to contact for one thing and another. She has worked as a team member with the changing members of the Selectboard to maintain our town buildings and roads, to replace our aged fire engine, and to knit our community together. Recently, she and the board members have expanded a help fund donated to the town to include ongoing concerns, something valuable during this crisis and with our town’s aging population. She’s been honest, hard-working and selfless.

I urge everyone who can to vote for Mary O’Brien.



Border policy still harming families seeking asylum

As we approach the end of President Joe Biden’s first 100 days, we must reflect on the work that has been done to reverse the inhumane, anti-migrant policies of the Trump administration. Many such policies have been removed, but Title 42 — a Trump administration policy that claims public health authority to expel asylum seekers and migrants — still stands as part of U.S. border policy.

Biden has acknowledged the harm of Title 42, and has even gone halfway toward a solution by exempting unaccompanied children from Title 42 expulsions. Yet Title 42 is still being used to turn away the vast majority of families seeking asylum, giving them no choice but to walk right back into the dangers they sought relief from. The victims of Title 42 include thousands of asylum-seekers from non-Northern Triangle countries. Since President Biden was inaugurated, nearly 1,400 Haitians — including many families with children — have been sent back to Haiti despite violent human rights violations in the country.

What would you do if you and your children were turned away from your only chance of safety, left with no choice but to return to the violence which you fled? Children, no matter where they’re from, should not have to live under the constant threat of danger.

As long as Title 42 is in force, President Biden cannot claim progress on the American border crisis. We must hold our president accountable to the waning moral integrity and eroding humanitarian leadership of our nation, a decline that started on the Trump administration’s watch.

If we fail to hold President Biden accountable, other nations will. Blocking asylum and sending vulnerable children and families back to conditions of violence is against international law. Moreover, it is morally unacceptable.

The Biden administration must phase out Title 42 and ensure that asylum-seeking children and their families can seek safety, which is their right.



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