A Better Way to Bag

They’re one of the more ubiquitous items in our kitchens, often stuffed into a drawer or basket or shoved hastily under the sink.  They’re plastic grocery bags and in Lake Oswego and other parts of Oregon, they’re facing a hasty demise.

As of July 1, 2019, Lake Oswego has ordered a ban on all plastic carry out bags in retail establishments over 10,000 square feet (think grocery and big box stores), with other establishments following suit  by January 2020, according to Jenny Slepian, Lake Oswego’s Sustainability and Management Analyst.  

Why the bag ban now?  According to the town of Lake Oswego’s official city website, the goal is to change consumers’ behavior.  By imposing a ban, the hope is that more consumers will bring their own reusable grocery bags when shopping, lessening the harm to the environment posed by those non-biodegradable plastic bags. Additionally, there will be a 10-cent charge for paper bags, a financial incentive to bring our own.

Plastic bags make up the majority of marine debris found on our coastlines, and can cause havoc to wildlife.

Lake Oswego follows McMinnville and Salem, among others, that have implemented the bag ban.  The Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2509 in June, which bans single use check out bags, and the bill is expected to be passed by Governor Brown.   To get the ball rolling in Lake Oswego, 14,000 reusable grocery bags were given to various retailers and city offices around town for distribution.   All 14,000 have been distributed to retailers and other agencies, according to Ms. Slepian, and as of this writing some can still be found at the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.  The bags’ colorful illustration was drawn by local teen artist Lexi Forseth.  

The Lake Oswego ban does not extend to plastic produce and meat bags in the grocery stores, and some other exceptions are also in place. 

So what to do with all of those plastic bags you’re left with?  One is to recycle the ones you have left at your local grocery store, if they accept them.  Click here to find out where the closest plastic bag recycling bin is in your area.  Wonderful things like park benches and decks can be made from your old Safeway bag!

If you’re the crafty type, here are some fun, creative items that can be made from your old plastic bags.  

So bring those old bags out from wherever they’re being squirreled away and recycle or reuse them!