On July 1, 2020, Vermonters are joining residents of seven other states in saying adieu to single-use, carryout plastic bags at stores and restaurants. Plastic bags, which can take an estimated 500 to 1000 years to decompose, usually wind up in landfills or littered somewhere, polluting soil and waterways, harming wildlife, or jamming recycling facilities when not properly recycled. The statewide “bag ban” is part of a growing global movement – in more than 120 countries! – to refuse and reduce our dependence on single-use plastics.
Come July, what if you forget your bag? It happens. Retailers can still sell recyclable paper bags at checkout for a minimum of 10 cents apiece. Some shops may also sell reusable totes or provide cardboard boxes in lieu of bags if you ask.
Otherwise, now is the time to start getting in the habit of bringing your own reusable bags (or basket, or box). So next time you're heading out the door, remember to do a "P.K.W.B." check. Phone. Keys. Wallet. Bags. The four things no one should ever leave home without.
It’s not a bad idea to start now, considering that many retailers already charge a small fee for single-use bags or offer you incentives when you bring reusable bags. Hunger Mountain Coop, for example, will donate five cents to the Montpelier Food Pantry.
- Pharmacy bags carrying prescription medications
- Produce bags
- Plastic bags used in stores to hold flowers, frozen foods, meat/seafood, baked goods, nuts, coffee, grains, candy, greeting cards, small hardware items
- Laundry, garment and dry cleaning bags
- Plastic bags with stitched handles (pictured, right)
It’s also worth noting that the July bag ban legislation tackles single-use plastic straws, stirrers and polystyrene in one fell swoop, hence why National Geographic calls it the “the most comprehensive plastic bags ban in the U.S.” The July deadline coincides with the Universal Recycling Law’s food scrap landfill ban, too. So, it's full steam ahead!
To learn more about Vermont's single-use plastics ban in July, visit: https://dec.vermont.gov/content/single-use-products-law
Dora Chi is the ECO AmeriCorps member at CVSWMD. She does a P.K.W.B. (Phone, keys, wallet, bags) check before she leaves for the day and always keeps a reusable bag in her coat pocket, just in case.