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Plastic Bags Banned


It’s here! Well, it’s going to be here October 15, 2011. Grocery store plastic bags will be banned from Portland henceforth. This ban had been in the works for a few years and the city council waited to see if the statewide legislature would pass it. Unfortunately that bill failed because they were not able to get the support needed. The failed bill would have also put a 5 cent fee on paper bags which is not in the city’s bill.

Anyway, the city council voted unanimously to ban the grocery plastic bags and we’ll see if Portland will survive Bagocalypse.

From the comments section of the Oregonian, we can see there is much opposition to this bill. Most of the complaints are as follows…

  • I use these plastic bags to pick up my doggie’s business…
  • I use these as trash bags.
  • Plastic bags are much easier to carry than paper bags.
  • “Outlaw plastic bags, and only outlaws will have plastic bags”
  • Don’t tell me what to do! and I just won’t shop in Portland responses.

Well, it’s done so the consumers will have to use recyclable bags or paper bags. We mostly switched to these years ago so it won’t be a big deal to our household. IMO, a paper bag works just as well for the doggies. Why wrap something biodegradable with a non-biodegradable plastic bag?

I think it’s great that we’ll do away with plastic bags.

  • They take forever to decompose.
  • We can’t recycle them easily. You can’t just throw them into the recycling bin because they’ll jam the sorting machine. It costs more to recycle than to make new plastic bags.
  • Plastic bags kill turtles and other marine animals.
  • They are made from petroleum. Wouldn’t you rather use petroleum to fuel your vehicle? The manufacturing process also emits a lot of pollution.

Paper bags are also just as bad for the environment as I understand. I read that if you’re near the coast go for paper so the plastic doesn’t get into the ocean. It’s best to use those reusable cloth bags instead.

I’m glad Portland joined San Francisco, San Jose, LA and many other cities around the world and banned the bags. There will be some adjustments, but I suspect people will be able to live with out them. What would you do if they ban plastic bags in your city? Would you drive to another city to shop?



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{ 33 comments… add one }
  • cashflowmantra July 27, 2011, 4:53 am

    I would simply adjust. I probably should use fewer plastic bags.

  • Financial Success for Young Adults July 27, 2011, 5:00 am

    That’s awesome! I wish they would get rid of plastic bags everywhere; and for all of the reasons you stated above. The reuseable bags are so much more eco-friendly and cost effective.

  • No Debt MBA July 27, 2011, 6:24 am

    I like the bag tax approach a little better than a wholesale ban. Especially since, as you point out, paper and plastic have similar degrees of environmental impact. Plus the money collected can be funneled into environmental efforts while still reducing bag usage.

    Most of the parks around here provide bags to pick up after your dog but they’re plastic. Although some are UV degradable the benefit is negligible since they just get buried in a landfill.

  • Dining Out Challenge July 27, 2011, 6:50 am

    I think it is crazy that people love their plastic bags so much they are willing to drive to another city to shop. I would welcome such a ban; I have cloth bags but I usually forget to bring them. A ban would force me to remember. 🙂

  • Niki July 27, 2011, 6:53 am

    I love this. We have our own plastic bag ban at our house. I like my cloth bags. It would be nice if they would stop making these all together.

  • Jeff @ Sustainable life blog July 27, 2011, 8:03 am

    I cant believe that cities are doing this – a very large overstep in my opinion. I dont use plastic bags unless I forget my cloth ones (which does happen). As for them being better than cloth bags – i’ve had those rip on me as well.

  • Brave New Life July 27, 2011, 10:44 am

    I hope they ban paper bags next. The only viable reason anyone would choose paper or plastic bags over reusable cloth bags is laziness.

    • retirebyforty July 27, 2011, 8:14 pm

      A surcharge on paper bags would go a long way toward encouraging people to bring their own bags.

    • 101 Centavos July 28, 2011, 5:21 am

      Respectfully disagree. I prefer paper bags over plastic since the unbleached paper is quite suitable for recycling as bedding in my vermicomposting bins. The resulting compost then goes on to fertilize my organic gardens.

      • 101 Centavos July 28, 2011, 5:32 am

        Corn based biodegradable plastic bags have a different environmental signature. The corn is grown with commercial fossil-fuel-derived fertilizers, harvested with diesel powered combines, and manufactured into bags at an industrial facility using energy-intensive processes. Conventional monoculture corn crops also lead to loss of topsoil.
        The perceived environmental utility of a “green” good does not necessarily exist in a vacuum.
        Paper bags, whether raw stock or recycled, are manufactured at energy-intensive pulp&paper facilities with some pretty nasty chemicals like dioxin.
        As for fabric bags, we tend to forget them at home more than half the time.

  • sandy @ yesiamcheap July 27, 2011, 11:13 am

    Where I’m from you don’t automatically get a plastic bag..or any bag for that matter. You bring your own bags and stop shopping when it’s filled. It’s as simple as that!

  • MoneyCone July 27, 2011, 11:15 am

    It had to be done! It will take some re-adjusting, but people will be just fine… eventually!

  • LLF July 27, 2011, 12:55 pm

    I do use the plastic bags for trash bags. Now I have to start buying trash bags. I guess if I compost, I wouldn’t really need trash bags at all. In the meantime, does anyone know if they have corn base plasic bags since they have cornbased plastic bottles.

    • retirebyforty July 27, 2011, 1:23 pm

      There are corn based plastic bags, but the grocery stores do not use them because of the cost. This seems to be a better option to me actually.

  • krantcents July 27, 2011, 1:34 pm

    My wife brings recyclable bags for the groceries. Unfortunately, we still use plastic bags for the kitchen trash. We do separate our trash for pickup though. I think the easier we make this, the more people will join in.

  • Christa July 27, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I would definitely have to adjust to this. I use plastic bags all the time for doggy “presents” — they are so much easier to use and keep the smell at bay better than paper bags. That being said, unless I’m low on plastic doggy bags, I use canvas bags when I shop.

    • retirebyforty July 27, 2011, 8:17 pm

      Haha, you can still use the vegetable produce bags. Those are still available.

  • Little House July 27, 2011, 4:06 pm

    I live in Los Angeles county and in my area we still have plastic bags (I think our law only affected certain cities). I use reusable bags (most of the time), so this wouldn’t affect me as much. However, when I run out of my bio-bags for cleaning out the cat litter, I rely on the plastic bags I’ve brought home.

    • retirebyforty July 27, 2011, 8:18 pm

      Really? Maybe it’s just Los Angeles city? I use paper bags for the kitty litter. It works pretty well.

  • SB(One Cent At A Time) July 27, 2011, 5:19 pm

    We started using reusable polyester bags for our grocery shopping, one can be bought from Walmart/Target

  • Kellen July 28, 2011, 7:28 am

    I’d have the same problem with the doggy “presents” although I buy the plastic bags meant only for that, rather than reusing grocery bags (they ALWAYS have holes!) I suppose the only way to get around the doggy presents would be to carry a washable pooper-scooper with me, and convince the doggy to poo near trashcans??

    • retirebyforty July 28, 2011, 9:23 am

      You should Google Shapoopie. It’s invented by (Monk) Tony Shalhoub’s brother. Looks pretty cool, hahaha. 😀

  • Daniel July 28, 2011, 7:55 am

    At our supermarket, they stopped selling them. To make it worse, it now costs 10 cents for each paper bag. It’s not all that terrible and I don’t miss plastic bags at all. The only frustrating thing is self-checkout. If the woman who monitors the area is helping someone or simply not around, you can’t buy a bag from her!

    Overall getting rid of waste is a good policy. But I would start charging instead of banning. It would be like a litter tax and people would be much more mindful.

  • Darwin's Money July 28, 2011, 8:23 am

    I wouldn’t go out of my way to get new plastic bags; it’s just a bit of a hassle since I like having some of each around the house. But sure, we’re wrecking the planet in short order so minor inconveniences along the way pale in comparison to the damage we’re doing. Maybe a tax on bags might have deterred use enough while still allowing some flexibility, but who knows…

  • Buck Inspire July 28, 2011, 10:52 pm

    I do use plastic bags for kitchen garbage. Interesting as this is a tug o war between savers and people who are green.

  • Jen @ Master the Art of Saving July 28, 2011, 11:12 pm

    Wow! I guess I’m finally going to have to be consistent about remembering to bring my reusable bags. As well as start buying garbage bags again. 🙁 I wonder if out-of-town people are gonna freak when they’re shopping here—that would be a little amusing to witness.

    • retirebyforty July 29, 2011, 1:50 pm

      It took them long enough to pass this ban. I think tourist should be OK with paper bags. New Season have been using paper bags for years and I haven’t heard any complaint.

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