Home > Plastic Bag Ban--Inconvenience Means Buying Less Stuff

Plastic Bag Ban--Inconvenience Means Buying Less Stuff

August 30th, 2012 at 01:15 am

Bit of a rant, sorry. On August 1st my city enacted a plastic bag ban, where you either need to bring your own bags to the stores or pay 5 cents for a paper bag. At first I thought it was just for the grocery stores. This pretty much did not concern me as I have been using reusable canvas or burlap bags for some time.

I also use reusable produce bags when I remember to grab them.

The stores still have plastic bags for produce, meat products, bulk bin items, and bakery or deli items, and they sell things like garbage bags and ziptop bags, so it's not a full on ban.

The thing that I did not realize at first was that it was for all stores in the city, including department and clothing stores. Now this I did find to be inconvenient when we were shopping for back to school clothes and school supplies. Most department stores have rules about bringing bags in. So do most mall stores. They are so worried about shop lifting they don't like you to bring any bags in. So if you have a cart that's not bad, but if you're hitting up a bunch of the regular stores and buying any amount of small things it starts to get difficult. And I don't like going back to my car after every purchase.

I do not like being forced into buying a bag, even if it's "only" 5 cents. You know my thoughts on "it's only" thinking. I don't like being nickled and dimed. It's the principle of the thing. I have a lot of mixed feelings here, because even though I don't much like plastic bags and will use totes when I can, I was always careful to reuse plastic bags when I got them. The big ones (which I rarely ever had, mostly at Christmas time) went in place of my kitchen trash bags and the small ones went as liners for garbage in the bathrooms or bedrooms. Now I have to buy them for the small cans and I'm frugal enough to resent buying new plastic as opposed to reusing plastic. At least this is making my actually recyle my toilet paper tubes and put the hair from the hairbrush in the compost bin. I am making every inch of my plastic bags count now.

It is a major hassle to come out of a store with a big pile of clothes and no bags. It is a major hassle to come out of a store with three pairs of shoes and no bag. It is a really, really major hassle to come out of a store with a year's supply of school supplies and no bags. I did put them in my reusable totes once I got them to the car, but I was frustrated with it. I mean, what happens when it is pouring down rain in another month and I need to make some purchases of things I don't want getting wet?

I think that I will end up buying less things in my city because of this. I am not an impulse shopper anyway, but I will rethink every purchase because of the inconvenience factor. This is a good thing as it will cut down on spending. I will likely do future larger shopping trips in the next county when we are down there for other reasons, which will mean thinking things through a bit more because I won't want to waste trips.

If this bag ban is making me buy more outside of my county, I wonder what it is doing to other shoppers. My county is highly retail oriented since shooting itself in the tax base and driving out the living wage industrial jobs about a decade back. It is a border county so it relies a lot on Canadians coming across and shopping here. But if I were doing that, I'd take the extra 30 minutes to go to the next county which also has a lot of retail. I think we're going to see a drop in the county's sales because of this. Even though intuitively it makes more sense to pay for the paper bags (at the stores that even have them, many do not) then to pay for the gas, the inconvenience factor and the "must pay for it" factor on the bags will cause a stubborn resistance.

I am trying to get over this stubborness, because I do know it is better for the environment. I just really don't like being told what to do. I came to my use of reusable totes at the grocery store on my own. I'd like the choice to do that otherwise. Or else the big stores need to get over their fears of shop lifting and let me bring my totes in. I guess my feelings on this are a...mixed bag. *snorts*

9 Responses to “Plastic Bag Ban--Inconvenience Means Buying Less Stuff”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    How frustrating! If you just have bags stuffed in your pockets or purse and bring them out at the register, will the stores not put the purchase in them?

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    I would start bringing my reuseable bags to any store, if the store doesn't like it, or needs to check you be it! I like less plastic. Smile

  3. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Our plastic bag ban started in July. I had cheated a bit and gone to Asian supermarkets where they are/were lax about that rule, and then went to the next city up (40 blocks away) where people encouraged me to take a bag while I still could. I try to remember to bring bags with me, leaving some in the car and maybe one or two in the scooter. I don't know if you can cheat much by going to Fairhaven or Ferndale or Lynden.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    Joan, they might, but some of the places would sure look down their noses at you.

    CCF--I have thought about it. I suppose if they are going to make more work for me, I can make more work for them.

    Paulette--Lynden is actually further away for me than the next county. Ferndale hasn't got retail, really, unless you count Walgreens. And Fairhaven isn't legally a separate town, it's just an area of this one, even though it's like its own city so it's got the same rules. I did notice one Asian store was still using plastic bags after the ban, but that was the first week and I figured they were just using up their supply.

  5. North Georgia Gal Says:

    I would be totally frustrated! Who is the county to say you have to pay for bags? And where does that money go?

  6. baselle Says:

    Yeah, we were told that the reusable "heavier" plastic retail/dept store/bookstore bags were exempt from the bag ban ... but retail down here over read the law. Now looks like its paper bag w/handle for 5 cents or nothing. Some of the grocery stores now also sell the heavier plastic bags for 99 cents/1.99 cents.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Would the retail stores really not let you use your own bags if you brought in the kind that fold up tiny when empty? It all sounds quite frustrating!

  8. snafu Says:

    Have you looked into buying many of these products on-line? and similar sellers offer better pricing and deliver to the door without fee. I'd start asking the big chains like Target for customer service adjacent to parking where you drive up, give the clerk the card and he loads it in your trunk.

  9. LuckyRobin Says:

    NGG, I don't know where it goes. Probably to the cost of the stores buying more expensive paper bags.

    Baselle--Yeah, I think some of the places have over read the law as well.

    Laura, they probably would. Most of my bags just don't fold up really small. They are good canvas or burlap and a couple of them stand up on their own!

    Snafu--Some things I just don't want to buy online. I like the kids to try things on. Some products I could, but shipping can be prohibitive in some cases. I really do like to have the hands-on experience of looking at the stuff and opening the package or touching the display model if necessary to make sure I'm getting exactly what I want. Places sometimes have free shipping, but seldom have free returns if they do if you don't like the thing.

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