Thursday, July 17, 2008

Potential Plastic Grocery Bag Ban

Baltimore City Council is advancing a bill which would force big grocery stores to use only recyclable paper bags rather than the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag by January 2010. (Thanks, Kris, for pointing me to this.)

One quoted store owner is concerned that adding a surcharge for the more expensive paper bags would be a turn-off to customers, saying he would not want to be the first store to do so.

But he wouldn't be the first. I first encountered a bag surcharge at IKEA when they stopped using free plastic bags at least a year ago. Also Whole Foods doesn't use plastic anymore.

This is so important, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Many cities (and countries) around the world have already banned free plastic bags: cities in India, all of China, Paris, and the UK, among others. Baltimore would be the second city in the US to take this step. San Francisco is the first.

Related: fears that the blue crab industry in the Chesapeake Bay is dying (or dead). Pollution and economy sited as causes.

Remotely related: I'm currently reading An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island by Tom Horton. "A small island home to five hundred watermen and their families, Smith Island is the subject of an elegant study about a community that has stayed true to its past while witnessing the decline of the natural wonders surrounding it in Chesapeake Bay." Reading this is making personal the importance of protecting this local resource.


Becky said...

I read this today with interest. I've been thinking, for at least a year now, of making the switch over to reusable bags for my shopping. I can't say what keeps making me put it off, but the article (as well as your quick book review) makes me more eager to pursue the switch. But certainly, it wouldn't be a hardship for most people to switch to reusable, would it? Most grocery stores, and even chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target, seem to be offering their own branded bags for 99 cents now.

I've heard of other stores across the country offering discounts (about 5 cents per bag) when using a reusable bag. Now *that* would be a nice thing to implement!

Johanna said...

That reminds me, Trader Joe's also offers an incentive for bringing reusable bags.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Aldi charges you for bags no matter what they're made of. So that quoted store owner wouldn't be the first in the city to charge customers for bags.

I've been using the reusable bags for several months, now. It took a little while to get into the habit of putting the emptied bags back into my car, since I'm prone to do the "Stopping off at the store on the way home" bit.