Austin, Texas, joined a growing list of cities ditching single-use grocery bags, and despite much grumbling the opposition hasn’t been able to get it overturned.
It’s scheduled to go into effect March 1, and I’m mentally preparing myself.
It’s not like this will be a major change for me.
I, and many of the shoppers I see at the H.E. Butt, Central Market and Whole Foods locations I shop most frequently tend to bring bags most of the time.
I’d say a good 40% of shoppers I see have at least one bag in their cart or under their arm as they walk into the store.
I talked with my friend Cristie Mather, director of communications at the Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., about how she handled the bag ban that went into effect where she lives in Portland, Ore.
Austin’s alter-ego city instituted a single-use bag ban last year for “big box” stores, and recently voted to expand it to “all retail establishments and food providers.”
Mather said thanks to the many produce trade shows she attends, she was already well-stocked in reusable grocery bags.
“I think I’m the envy of the produce department for the amount of bags I have,” she said.
I can relate. I have an extensive collection of bags I purchased at retailers I visit all over the U.S. and Canada. I’ve got really nice insulated bags from Wegmans and Trader Joe’s that sometimes get a funny look when I hand them over to the bagger or cashier.
I just added a really nice woven plastic one from a visit to Kings Food Markets to my assortment.
Not everyone has the bag swag we do, though. Mather says she’s seen shoppers struggle with carrying the paper bags stores are allowed to offer under the ban.
“After it first went into effect, I did see a young mother with a child struggling to carry four bags,” Mather said.
“She was obviously walking home. The folks who have to walk a little farther, or take the bus to the store or travel from a food desert have a harder time.”
Not every city is convinced that a bag ban is in its best interest. Toronto, for example, recently overturned the enforcement provision of its bag ordinance, which was scheduled to take effect in just a few weeks.
These bans so far have not affected the single-use bags for the produce department, and for that I am thankful.
Despite having bought several versions of reusable produce bags (one of which I use to clean my son’s grungy Legos in the washer), I haven’t been able to make myself commit to using them in the store.