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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Gainesville residents saw some familiar faces on their morning commute Wednesday as Commissioner Harvey Ward, Commissioner Helen Warren and Mayor Lauren Poe passed out reusable grocery bags on multiple RTS routes.

The reason they did this was twofold, said Gainesville spokesperson Chip Skinner. First, they wanted to raise awareness for the upcoming plastic bag and Styrofoam ban, which will go into effect in January. Second, they wanted to open a dialog with citizens, Skinner said.

“We thought it would be a good idea to give citizens a chance to talk to [Gainesville’s government officials] and ask any questions that they have about the ban or anything else,” Skinner said. “It was very positively received.”

This effort is based on an idea by Shelby Taylor, Gainesville’s director of communications. Taylor said it is necessary for officials to get out into the community, and she thought that the bus system was an effective way for them to do so.

Starting at the Rosa Parks downtown bus station, Mayor Poe, Commissioner Warren and Commissioner Ward each rode on a different route from beginning to end, Taylor said.

“Each one of them probably interacted with anywhere between 30 and 50 residents and spoke with them as [they] handed out bags today,” Taylor said.

They have scheduled two additional routes in the coming weeks, which will feature Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos and Commissioner David Arreola, Taylor said.

“We are working hard to rethink waste in our community, and it is important to give citizens the opportunity to learn more about that effort and other ways the city and the county are working together to improve our environmental ethic,” Taylor said.

  • January 17: The Gainesville City Commission voted unanimously to pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam containers in Gainesville to start Aug. 1
  • February 14: City Commission discussed creating an ordinance that would make plastic straws available by request only before banning the product completely
  • March 28: The commission voted 5-2 to move the date to January 2020
  • April 2: The Alachua County Commission made a motion to create a single-use plastic and Styrofoam ban
  • Jan. 1, 2020: Plastic ban goes into effect
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