Stephens and supporters distribute reusable bags as ban takes effect
If you see Cuyahoga County Council Member Cheryl Stephens or her supporters—Team Cheryl Stephens—knocking on doors, it is probably to deliver reusable shopping bags. Thanks to an initiative from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District (CCSWD), Stephens has committed to giving out sturdy reusable plastic tote bags to anyone in her district who makes a request via teamcheryl.org/bags. The colorful, eco-friendly bags, made of recycled plastic, are each estimated to replace 700 disposable bags over its lifespan, and will be distributed as long as the supply lasts.
Cuyahoga County Council passed a single-use plastic bag ban, effective Jan. 1. However, to help ease the transition, the ban won’t be enforced until July 1. During the six-month grace period, retailers won’t be fined. [For complete information on what kind of bags are banned, and which are exempt, visit cuyahogarecycles.org.]
CCSWD purchased 25,000 reusable bags, and made them available to members of county council to distribute to their constituents beginning in mid-January. It also made them available to Cuyahoga County nonprofit organizations.
Stephens considers this home-delivered bag campaign an outreach of gratitude for all of the residents who called and e-mailed, voicing their support of the Cuyahoga County plastic bag ban.
Stephens admits she understands reservations expressed by some retailers and residents, but believes “we need to make decisions today to take care of the future,” and said she hopes to work with grocers and retailers to support them while also finding other ways to make the community more sustainable.
“This isn’t a test,” said Stephens. “It is a way to save our lake and to have less trash and debris on our streets and yards. We have seen that other communities and states have done this successfully. And now Cuyahoga County is a leader in Northeast Ohio.”
Sustainability has always been a core issue for Stephen, who is running for reelection to Cuyahoga County Council, and faces a challenger on the March 17 Democratic primary ballot. She may be best known, however, for her life-long commitment to housing and economic development. As vice-chair of county council’s community development committee, she is working with county staff to negotiate with banks to meet the needs of the communities they serve. This includes requirements for community reinvestment, loans to families in low- to moderate- ncome census tracks, counseling for small businesses, and specialized loan pools for those businesses—all of which county residents have indicated are important to them.
Reflecting on the year since she first took office, Stephens is eager to continue serving District 10, comprising Bratenahl, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland and University Heights. “When we start initiatives, they are not just for the core city, but also for first-ring suburbs,” said Stephens.
Pam Turos is a member of Team Cheryl Stephens, which comprises supporters who believe in moving Cuyahoga County District 10 forward.