Banned Bags

I don’t live in Chicago, but I do live near Chicago.

After much discussion they’ve finally pulled the trigger on passing a ban on plastic bags for customer purchases at stores, most stores. Customers will have to find an alternative, probably paper or canvas. Oddly, the best system for eliminating disposable plastic bags that I’ve seen was in Italy, and it took a different tack.

Bags at checkout had to be purchased. Amazing how you use fewer of them when each one comes with a price. These bags were plastic, but durable plastic. My experience was that they would last for more than 10 trips (walking trips of store to apartment, not store to car). Since you paid for it, you were also likely to use it again, like a canvas bag. But unlike a canvas bag, these could be rolled up into a tight bundle which you could just keep in your pocket. The consequence was

  • You use less of them.
  • You use them multiple times.
  • You use them reliably.

The alternatives to disposable plastic bags achieve some, but not all, of these objectives. Consequently, the best alternative to disposable plastic bags seems to be non-disposable plastic bags. One could even add in a deposit to make sure people recycle them when they wear out.




2 thoughts on “Banned Bags

  1. In my little town of 9,000 people, we took a year for transition. At first, stores would hand out the canvas bags, one to a customer, for free. You could easily collect a dozen bags of different sizes. They are washable, and last for thousands of trips. I have some that are three years old. When one does wear out, you can now buy new ones for 1-2 dollars. When we shop I put away the items, then toss the empty bags back in the trunk of the car.

    The reason why all forms of plastic bags have to be eliminated is they take too long to degrade in landfills, and in water they float around for years, entangling fish and causing safety hazards to boaters. They can jam your propeller or get stuck in the jet of a ski. I live in a port town, and we have a city-owned volunteer tug that goes around our bays each day picking up plastic. They get hundreds of tons!

  2. That’s where they’re going here as well. The current system causes all sorts of problems, like you point out. The problem that I have is that I keep forgeting. Left it in the car. Different car. Riding with someone else. … With the ones I used in Italy, it was very easy to just have one in the bottom of my pocket, so it was there whenever I needed it.

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