- Three Reasons Vintage and Antiques are THE Eco-Friendly Buying Choice
- Upcycling with Vintage Pieces and Parts
And now I want to take it a step further to make our commitment to a healthy local environment even greater.
Where Does All The Plastic Go?
In light of the recent decision to eliminate plastics recycling in the City of Staunton, many citizens and retailers rightfully feel concerned, myself included. Yet we also wonder if the end to our local recycling is as bad as it first seems?
After all, if you look at the Three R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — recycling is actually the LEAST important even though it’s gotten the MOST publicity and buy-in from citizens.
We think we’re doing something great when we recycle, when in fact it would have been better to have just used fewer things that come in plastic in the first place, opting for containers we can safely and easily REUSE again and again instead.
That latter approach actually puts less stress on resources, uses less dirty fossil fuels for manufacture and transport, and creates less waste either in our local landfills, outsourced to China which was formerly buying our “recycled” trash, or in the horrifying Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is replete with ocean-killing excess plastics trash.
A Community Comes Together
Now a new local group, Shenandoah Green, with the help of Sustainable Shenandoah Valley and our own Staunton Downtown Development Association, wants to find ways to actively reduce plastics use in the Shenandoah Valley, something we can all agree is important for our beautiful local area, for the health and welfare of our kids and grandkids, and simply the right thing to do in an age where excess has run amok!
Here at Staunton Antiques
Naturally we at the Staunton Antiques Center want to do our part. We’re thrilled that our store already is keeping literally millions of items out of landfills as well as reducing demand on new manufacturing and long transport chains by offering items that are not only still usable, but in most cases are also better made, look cooler, and have a history!
At the same time we have historically used our distinctive quality bright green plastic bags for some of our sales (paper for others) for a variety of reasons.
First, we want the bag to support the weight of a potentially heavy item. Secondly we want to give tourists (and all customers) a carrying vessel that lets them explore the rest of the town without being burdened by juggling something in their arms without a bag. Finally our bags look nice and are pleasant to carry, so much so that we hope our customers will re-use them again and again.
But now we want to change our approach a bit.
First, we’re now asking all customers if they need a bag. If so, we’re happy to provide one and then to remind the customer that we hope they will re-use the bag as often as possible.
Secondly, we’re going to use more paper than plastic wherever possible. And we’re implementing parcel handles to simply wrap a package in paper and twine like they did in the old days and, if needed, attach a parcel handle for larger packages so they can be easily carried.
Finally, to foster a culture of encouragement, we’d like to remind locals and tourist alike to begin carrying as many simple reusable items as you can when you’re out and about.
- A reusable, compact shopping bag that can fit in your purse or back pocket is a great way to reduce your own consumption of plastics and set an example for your kids and grandkids.
- You can also carry your own mess kit for to-go food, or a cloth napkin instead of relying on throwaways at restaurants.
- And keep on hand a good old fashioned hankie for your nose that you can wash regularly.
Let’s Really Solve This
We know our citizens want to do more. Many believe it’s time for a bag tax like those in California, or the single use plastic bag ban in Portland Oregon and elsewhere. People quickly change their behavior in the face of a bag tax and begin carrying their own reusable bags in short order.
So I asked Staunton City Councilman Erik Curren, long a local environmental leader, for some thoughts. He said,
“You may know that, since Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, localities like Staunton actually require permission from our state legislature in order to regulate or tax such items as plastic bags and other single-use items like styrofoam to go containers or soda bottles.
For the last year or two, I think, bills have been introduced into our general assembly that would give localities the authority to regulate single-use plastic and even paper bags. Unfortunately, they’ve routinely been defeated.
I support this legislation and would also support expanding it or adding other legislation to let localities regulate the distribution and sale of single-use plastics of other kinds, including straws.
I’d like to see Staunton come out officially in favor of legislation at the state level to grant us and other localities the authority to regulate them. That would be a start. Then, we’d want to enact an ordinance to that effect locally. We could use help crafting the terms and generating public support as well.
I hope the growing green and sustainability groups in and around Staunton will put a single-minded and very vocal effort into this — it is citizens demanding change and staying at it who will get this done.”
I agree with Erik that now is the time for us to come together.
We should each monitor and change our own behavior on single-use items and foster a friendly, supportive encouragement among one another to also adopt these changes. Local businesses should take a leadership-oriented approach to model re-use and reduce options as well. And even while we’re taking these individual actions, we should really do as Erik says and make our actions collective and political to push our legislature to act in the best interest of all Virginians, now and into the future.
I hope you’ll take part!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antique Center