February 26, 2013
Accept it — the bag ban is here
On Friday, the Issaquah ban on most retail plastic bags begins. Like it or not, prepare to bring your own reusable bags, or pay a nickel per paper bag. An ad in this paper offers a coupon for a free reusable bag.
The plastic bag ban was adopted last June by the Issaquah City Council, following in the footsteps of Seattle and other cities, including Edmonds and Mukilteo. Concern for the environment was the prime motivator behind the initiative, led by then-City Councilman Mark Mullet, now the state senator for the 5th Legislative District.
According to the city’s website, plastic bags are made from nonrenewable resources and do not biodegrade in the environment. An estimated 2 billion disposable plastic bags are used annually in Washington state, and less than 5 percent are recovered for recycling.
The first phase in effect March 1 only applies to the largest stores, those over 7,500 square feet. Smaller stores will have another year to implement the ban. Stores not complying can be fined.
The Issaquah ban does not eliminate all plastic bags. You will still be able to put your broccoli in a small bag, and can use another for your bagels. The exemption for plastic bags extends to bakery items, bulk foots, meat, produce and take-out food.
Exemptions also apply to small hardware items, so you won’t have to put a pound of bulk nails or screws in your pocket. Dry cleaning bags are also OK, as are the plastic bags used to protect home-delivered newspapers from the rain.
Issaquah has given consumers plenty of time to get used to the idea of the bag change, yet there are still threats by a few who say they will shop elsewhere.
It’s time for those who choose to shop in Issaquah to get with the program. Shopping locally is the right thing to do, just as is learning to carry reusable bags — no matter where you shop.