TEANECK, N.J. — What started as a Bronze Award project by Girl Scout Troop 19 has blossomed into a full-on crusade to make Teaneck the first New Jersey municipality to approve a “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance and ban plastic bags.
"You’re learning from age 10 and 11 how important it is to advocate for things that benefit our community," Mayor Lizette Parker told troop members after the presented their proposed ordinance. "I just commend you all."
The issue was back on the agenda last week, and the Township Council opted to first consult with the Chamber of Commerce and Teaneck Environmental Commission before making any decisions.
“It’s important because it would be the first step towards getting rid of plastic bags altogether,” said Eliza Silletto, a 12-year-old cadette. “Plastic bags do a lot of harmful things to wildlife and just making plastic bags contributes to global warming.”
Troop members recently stood outside Stop and Shop in town and distributed reusable bags, while displaying signs with plastic bag facts.
They also recorded a documentary that's been shown at film festivals and green events in Westwood, Emerson, Fair Lawn and Teaneck.
“People say plastic bags take a long time to decompose, like 1,000 years, but plastic bags haven't existed long enough or no one has been alive long enough to see how long it will take to decompose,” said cadette Rose Silletto.“Plastic bags might never decompose," she said. "You can’t recycle them. And if you try to burn a plastic bag, then it releases chemicals that are toxic.”
While the council deliberates, the troop continues to educate the community.
“The troop has been building a petition," said the Silletto girls' mother, Kelly Sheehan, who helped create the video. "And it has over 400 signatures so far, including 35 town merchants and the Hackensack River Keeper and [State] Senator Loretta Weinberg, who lives in Teaneck.”