Last spring, Town Meeting members put a seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers in Arlington. This spring, they’ll get a chance to ban the sale of bottled water in town.
Three Arlington High seniors, Amy Currul, Sonia Zacher and Marina Milan, collected enough signatures to place the proposed ban on this spring’s Special Town Meeting warrant.
“[We] decided to pursue this because of our passion for environmental causes,” Currul wrote in a Tuesday email, “and because we feel water bottles have a hugely negative environmental impact and are something people can very easily remove from their life.”
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The three teenagers are members of the high school’s Students Against Violating the Environment (SAVE) club. Currul’s the club president. Her name appears with the article (below) because she was the only one of the three who was 18 when their petition was submitted (Zacher has since turned 18).
Currul wrote that Zacher was the one who brought the idea forward after being inspired by the same ban in Concord last spring, which was the first of its kind. The three then ran with it and got help from their other club members, who assisted in collecting the 108 signatures, eight more than were required.
The article’s wording specifically bans “the sale of non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less [in Arlington] except in the event of an emergency.”
It will go before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, March 18, before heading to the Special Town Meeting on Wednesday, April 24. A lessening of the town’s seasonal leaf-blower ban will also be acted on at the Special Town Meeting, which falls in the middle of this spring's regular Town Meeting.
The leaf-blower ban was upheld at a Special Election in July and Special Town Meeting in October after it was passed last spring in a 95-85 vote.
Currul wrote that they submitted their petition for the Special Town Meeting because they missed the regular Town Meeting deadline. It takes 100 signatures to get an article on a Special Town Meeting warrant, and only 10 to get one on the Town Meeting warrant.
Currul has a lengthy resume for someone her age. In addition to her role with SAVE, she is the editor of the high school’s student newspaper, the Ponder Report, publicity chair of the town’s Relay for Life committee and an active volunteer at the town’s cable-access station, ACMI. She also interned for state Rep. Sean Garballey last summer and worked on his most recent campaign, and she plays the trombone in the school band.
Currul, who plans to study English/journalism in college, wrote that she does not believe their ages will be an issue in the debate.
“I have been underestimated before because of my age,” she wrote, “be it at the state house, ACMI or what have you. But the three of us are confident in our cause and in our arguments for the ban, so I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Arlington has a recent history of young activists. In 2010, Sean Harrington, now a Precinct 15 Town Meeting member, fought to get the pledge of allegiance back in Arlington’s schools at age 17.
Currul wrote that they fully expect a backlash from some residents, especially business owners. “We know not everyone will be in favor of what we are doing,” she wrote, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and we are ready to have a conversation with them, about our point of view and why we are trying to pass such a ban.”
As for her own habits, Currul wrote that they would not be affected by the ban.
“I personally have never been a big water bottle drinker,” she wrote. “We have so many reusable water bottles around my house that I never felt it necessary to buy a single serving one.”
Article 4, Bylaw Amendment, Sale of Drinking Water in Single-Serve PET Bottles
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town Bylaws to prohibit the sale of non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in the Town of Arlington except in the event of an emergency; or take any action related thereto.
(Inserted at the request of Amy Currul and one hundred registered voters)