Starting January 1, 2013, we won't automatically be given a plastic bag at the local grocery store check-out stand. The Alameda County Waste Management Authority passed a single-use plastic bag ordinance that seeks to encourage the use of reusable bags. While you can still get a paper bag at the checkout stand, if you forget a reusable bag, it will cost 10 cents. (The store keeps the 10 cents to offset the cost of purchasing bags.)
The ordinance has sparked several conversations with friends, family members and folks in the check-out line. While memory strategies vary with reusable shopping bags, I usually carry 3-4 in purse all the time. Other folks have a large stash in their cars. Someone I know keeps a bag of reusable bags on the front door knob while another friend will hang bags on a hook next to the place she normally keeps the shopping list.
As someone who has used reusable bags for years, it hasn't really made a big difference in my shopping "experience". I do struggle to get the items I am purchasing on the conveyor belt, get out my credit card and unpack my reusable bags before the checker can automatically pop my purchases into a plastic bag. It has become my strategy to pull the reusable bags out of my purse first and place them on the conveyor belt ahead of my purchases.
In the big picture, plastic bags are a big problem for the environment. Here are some facts:
- Plastic bags are one of the most common items found in creeks, storm drains and streets.
- Storm drain cleanup costs Alameda County cities approximately $4 million every year and plastic bags are the most prevalent items found in storm drains.
- Approximately 10,000 tons of plastic bags find their way to Alameda County landfills every year.
- One reusable bag can replace 600 single-use bags over its lifetime.
What strategies do you use to remember your reusable shopping bags? Let me know in the comments below and I will share them with others.
If you want more information about the ordinance, visit www.ReusableBags AC.org