Local Plastic Bag Bans: How’s It Going?

Many areas in the US are banning or at least taxing single use plastic bags and the practice is growing. Most people support these bans in spirit but can find it difficult to always remember their cloth bags when leaving the house. Or some times a spontaneous errand means you just don’t have them with you. Do you live in an area where bags have been banned — or just seriously discouraged? What is your strategy for reducing your plastic bag use?

The biggest issue for most people is forgetting their cloth or reusable bags. In time this will be fixed as the habit to bring them takes hold. (You remember your wallet and keys, right?) Many people favor the ultra thin nylon bags that wrap into their own pouch are easy to toss into a purse or backpack. But still, it can happen that you end up at the store with no bags in hand. Many grocery stores these days have a bin where you can leave and pick up used plastic or paper bags. They also sell cloth bags for a dollar or two, usually heavily imprinted with the a store’s logo.

Some people I know use their plastic grocery bags as garbage bags, thus eliminating the need to purchase rolls of plastic garbage bags. While this helps a little in that it gives the plastic bag a second use, it still doesn’t eliminate the fact that it ends up in a landfill or on a barge heading out to sea where plastic bags have been known to injure and kill marine life.

Here in the Bay Area, some grocery stores and farmers’ markets are starting to offer bio compostable bags, usually charging an extra 25 cents each. This is my favorite solution because my apartment building doesn’t participate in our city’s compost program (grrrr) so I do have a little more “wet garbage” to deal with these days. The small compostable bags mean I don’t have to use plastic garbage bags or ‘recycle’ plastic grocery store bags. (Hint: cardboard milk cartons are also good containers for non-recyclable waste.)

Do live in a city where plastic bags are banned? How is it going? What do you do when you forget your bags?

(Image: Portlandia)