Going Bagless in Olympia WA

Mark your calendars, Thurston County Washingtonians:

on July 1, 2014, single-use plastic bags will be banned

I love my reusable bags.  This ban is not only a smart move towards a healthier environment but it’s an easy change for most consumers because the reusable bags are far superior to thin plastic bags.  The reusable bags can hold more groceries, stay upright in the car, and they are much easier to handle.  So I am in favor of this ban, however, there are quite a few rules that really take the enthusiasm out of saving the environment.

Just bring your own bag.  It’s really just that simple….sort of.   How to complicate a bag ban?  Just ask the government to step in!

Who would have thought that banning a plastic bag would come with all this “bag”gage?!  Here are some of the rules for the bag ban:

  • The ban is for all stores and including farmer’s markets and street fairs.
  • The ban is for plastic bags 2.25 mil or thinner. (Has anyone seen my ruler?)
  • But thicker plastic bags are not banned and have no restrictions because you could reuse those.
  • Other bags that are exempt from the ban are bags used in-store for your produce, and bags for prepared take-out food.
  • Retailers can decide if they want to charge customers for reusable bags or provide them for free. But all vendors will need to charge a minimum of 5 cents for paper bags that are 1/8 barrel or larger (What the heck is a 1/8 barrel??)  AND these paper bags with 1/8 barrel or larger size must also have a 40% recycled content.  BUT there are no requirements for smaller paper bags.
  • Customers paying with an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (food assistance program) will not be charged for paper bags.
  • Food banks can still use plastic bags to distribute food.

If the goal is to get rid of plastic bags, then get rid of plastic bags.  Did you know that if a plastic bag is thicker, it is not a hazard to the environment?  That’s also true with the bags from food banks; those bags also have absolutely no detrimental environmental impact.  It’s just the bags and you and I use that are deemed harmful.  (If you can’t see the sarcasm in my typing, I’m being very sarcastic right now.)  But really – let’s just not have plastic bags at the store. Are we really making this simple act overly complicated?

Although these regulations have deflated by plastic bag and took the wind out of my plastic sails, I will continue to use and to promote the use of reusable bags.  I do think they are great bags and if I’m truly helping the environment, all the better.  And the added benefit, if I do bring my own bags, then I don’t have to worry about any of these rules and regulations!

 ban on plastic bags



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