Dozens of people came to Concord Tuesday to support a proposal banning the use of most plastic straws and shopping bags. The two bills heard in the state Senate Commerce Committee have already passed the House of Representatives.
One would require businesses – except health care facilities – to only provide plastic straws on request.
The other bill would bar businesses from giving out plastic shopping bags in most cases, and require them to charge 10 cents for paper and reusable plastic alternatives.
A few people at the hearing downplayed the environmental impacts of plastic pollution, and argued New Hampshire doesn't contribute enough of it to justify a large-scale ban.
But many more residents – including several children and teenagers – disagreed.
"This is extreme waste being produced for our minimal convenience,” said 14-year-old Ilinca Drondoe of Bedford.
A few business advocates also argued restaurants already use alternatives to plastic.
But others, including Drondoe, say the proposed bans are about more than just straws and bags.
"This bill will put New Hampshire at the forefront of a movement,” said Drondoe. “It’ll motivate and challenge people to consider the consequences of their actions, limit the use of other single-use plastics in their lives and be more environmentally conscious."
The state of Maine and a handful of New Hampshire towns are among those currently considering similar bans.