Confession: I developed a bad plastic bag habit during Covid. Pre-pandemic, I dutifully brought my reusable bags to the grocery store. Things changed once Covid hit, however. Cashiers initially didn’t accept reusable bags, and after several months we entered this murky area where they were permitted but not preferred? I could never really tell. And as you know, once you get out of a habit, it’s realllly hard to get back in. Starting in January, however, I won’t have a choice.
Haverford, Easttown and Radnor Townships all passed ordinances banning single-use plastic bags. (Tredyffrin will host a public hearing on September 19). Philadelphia, Media, Narberth and West Chester already have bans in place, and Narberth’s ordinance—passed in 2019—outlaws plastic straws too. Customers who forget their reusable bags will be able to purchase paper bags at most establishments for around ten cents. Businesses that don’t comply could face fines of up to $500.
The average American family takes home a whopping 1,500 plastic bags a year, the majority of which end up in landfills or oceans. When we lived in Maryland, our county passed a plastic bag ban, and the impact was immediate. Reusable bags were suddenly all the rage, and I never left home without them. Paying a few cents for a bag felt like a crushing blow.
Interestingly enough, New Jersey, which banned plastic bags statewide in May, is grappling with another problem—too many reusable bags. Online grocery orders, which skyrocketed during the pandemic, are now being delivered in reusable bags that are piling up in customers’ homes. One resident told the New York Times that he’s considering sewing them into blackout curtains for his daughter’s room, while another wants to start a Little Free Reusable Bag Library in her front yard. Yikes! For now I’m happy to dust off my reusable bag stash and kiss those plastic bags goodbye.
PS Wegmans plans to eliminate plastic bags completely by the end of 2022!