Would you support a ban on plastic bags?

A plastic bad along Park Point on Lake Superior in Duluth. (photo courtesy of Shawna MullenEardley)

Grand Rapids became the first Minnesota locality to take a stand against plastic shopping bags, when the City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging citizens to “work toward decreasing their consumption of plastic bags” by instead shopping with reusable bags,” writes Dan Kraker for MPR News.

Today’s Question: Would you support a ban on plastic bags?

  • AndyBriebart

    No, then what would people pick up dog poop or kitty litter with? What would people use to bring faucet parts to the hardware store? We have lots of uses for those bags at our house.

  • Jim G

    No…Banning is a heavy handed tool. If merchants encourage the sale of their branded reuseable cloth bags there will be a reduction in plastic bags useage.I forget to bring our bags in the stores or they’re in the other car.My forgetful mind needs those bags.

  • PaulJ

    Don’t paper bags cause just as much trouble?

    • Yanotha Twangai

      No, they don’t. They’re heavier, so they don’t blow in wind as much, and they aren’t a choking and suffocation hazard for wildlife.

      • PaulJ

        According to NBC, paper creates 70 % more air pollution and plastic creates 4 times the solid waste.

  • JQP

    I wish more stores operated like ALDI grocery stores… they don’t give you any bags. You have to buy them, if you don’t have your own.

  • Sue de Nim

    No, but a nickel deposit might be a good idea. I find I’m collecting them about ten times as fast as I can find re-uses for them. Those tumblebags blowing in the wind and getting stuck in trees are a real problem.

  • Gary F
  • Rich in Duluth

    No, some kind of encouragement or incentive would be better. I like the idea of charging for the bags instead of building the cost into the cost of the groceries.

    Unfortunately, plastic is just so much more convenient to carry than paper bags and can be reused at home, as noted by others, here. We’ve got reusable bags, but forget them at home much of the time.

  • kevins

    I like the notion of banning them, or in the alternative, encouraging the producers to create bags that biodegrade in a relatively short amount of time (say…something less that 100 years).

  • david

    No, but I try to avoid them as much as possible. I wish curbside recycling picked them up.

    I do buy allegedly biodegradable dog poop bags. They cost a little more, but if they truly are biodegradable it would be nice to see stores make the switch, even if they had to tack the few cents difference onto my cost.

  • Lydia

    Single use plastic bags should be banned. Ask landfill workers what they think about all those bags blowing in the wind – better yet, go for a tour and see for yourself. Give a ‘notice’ of about 2 years and do a gradual process so people get in the habit of bringing reusable bags. Many are small enough to pack into a purse or coat pocket and I carry a couple all the time. Some stores give a 5-10 cent credit for bringing reusable bags. People might be more likely to participate if there was a cost (I suggest 25-50 cents per bag) rather than a negligible discount.

  • Owen

    I wouldn’t support a ban. Choose paper when possible, at least they can be used for garbage. Decline bags at all when it’s only one or two items. Plastic bags are recyclable; just bag them up so they aren’t loose to fly around. Our single sort system accepts them and grocery stores do also. Good Will usually has a sign asking for people to bring both plastic and paper for their use. At least that gives them another use before disposal or recycling.

  • Kristen

    Absolutely. If people will not make the right choice by their own will, sometimes they need a nudge in the right direction. Reuseable bags are accessible, cost effective, and a necessary and simple improvement for the world.

  • Linda

    I already use reuseable bags. A lot of stores give a discount for using them.

  • Yes I work in high volume retail and I would be very happy to see plastic bags banned. I think most retailers would be happy to see a ban, it would reduce their costs as well.

  • Mark in Ohio

    No, I would not. I use reusable bags for many items, especially for regular shopping trips such as the grocery store. That said, there are times and products I won’t put in my reusable bags, esp. fresh soups and similar prepared foods that could leak. For those cases, paper isn’t a good option. When I do take single-use plastic bags, I either use them for garbage bags (especially for used cat litter) at home, or take them back to the plastic bag recycling bins.

  • Sarah

    Yes, I would wholeheartedly support a ban on plastic bags. I use reusables all the time, and paper when necessary, and I can always wash anything that leaks. Hopeful in Duluth!

  • CitizenCicero

    Most assuredly, but good luck with that. Love to see bags stuck in trees and other unreachable places for years on end! Maybe if they made a truly biodegradable (not just breakdownable) bag?? They do that for compost buckets.

  • amympls

    Yes- we should reduce plastic on all fronts. Educate more on the oceans and lakes full of plastic toys and bags, water bottles. The fish eat them. We eat the fish. Take plastic out of the equation.

  • upnorth

    Yes, I live in Grand Rapids and there are not many people who use reusable bags. I use them at least 90% of the time, they just stay in my car. Cub gave away reusable bags a couple of months ago. Genious! More stores should do a promotion like that. Target gives you a Nickle back for every reusable bag you use, small amount but good incentive.

  • Bryan

    Yes. We should ban plastic bags and require a 5 cent fee for paper bags. Incentives alone will never move us away from the habit and dependence on single use bags. Many areas of Europe have banned single-use bags and it is a part of the culture there.
    Government ban would provide a standard for all businesses to follow. It is the job of the government to step in and say “Hey! Single use plastic bags are a bad idea for people, animals, and the planet in the long term.”

  • Theresa

    YES! I try to avoid plastic bags myself, but they still creep into our home at an ungodly rate. Yes, they can be recycled (and I do take them to the co-op for their recycle bin) but after recycling the plastic breaks down and can no longer be used… but it will exist for decades anyway. Stores like Aldi’s do not give bags for free– if you want one, you need to buy it, and it encourages more people to bring their own bags or to find empty boxes on the shelves to use. There are other ways. Plastic bags didn’t exist 100 years ago, and still people managed to shop.

  • Sarah in Madison

    I support a ban.

    Most of those arguments against a ban hinge on the belief that everyone else will act as responsible as the commenter, reusing and recycling the few bags they use. It would be great if that were the case, because if so the plastic bag problem could absolutely be solved without legislation. But I don’t know if it’s possible to change the behavior of that many people in a reasonable time frame. My opinion is that this is an instance where legislation will be a more effective problem-solving tool than long-term cultural change.

    Also – most of the talk here is about the aesthetic damage plastic bags do, but they also kill a lot of wildlife. Most such stories are about sea turtles, which may seem distant from Minnesota – but you’d be surprised how far trash moves (and not all ‘loose’ plastic bags were irresponsibly dropped; many escape from landfills or garbage transport). And creating bag-free lifestyles here will help show people elsewhere that it’s possible.
    http://www.conserveturtles.org/seaturtleinformation.php?page=marine_debris

  • Belinda

    YES!

  • Laura Blue Bird

    NO!!! Mainly because I support a ban on littering and pollution of our Mother Earth. These pictures they show obviously people would say YES. But what about the bigger picture the tens of thousands of poor people who use plastic bags to get their groceries from the store to their homes? Maybe they should show a picture of that!!! Or the single mom who has to carry her groceries in plastic bags a stroller and her kid(s), How about a picture of that? I’m all for keeping the earth green but what about poor people or people with children we have forgotten the grey area and the bigger picture!

  • mn_muse

    Yes, a Minneapolis/MN ban would be lovely!

  • Annie

    I have been wishing for a very long time that plastic bags would not be allowed. They contribute to so much of the waste and are often not reused. So YES!! I would support a ban on plastic bags. Brilliant idea!!!

  • davehoug

    Limiting waste and protecting the wildlife IS a good idea. The real question is do we as a society want to use the full power of government to turn a person into a criminal by violating a “it would be nice” ban. If government is allowed to make criminal, actions that do not harm others, but is just a popular idea…….where is the limit to government we were all taught our founding fathers believed in?????

    • SB

      I’m not sure that ‘criminality’ would come into the equation. I understand the ban would prevent stores from using them and distributing them to their customers; perhaps stores that violate the ban would be fined, but a store can’t be a ‘criminal,’ can it? And I doubt that even persistent violations would land a manager in jail. I’m certain that an individual possessing a plastic bag wouldn’t be in violation of the law – that’s not the focus, and in any case they could have picked it up outside of the city.

      I’m no expert in criminal law, but I assume this would work similarly to laws like the ones that control where alcohol can be sold, or require stores to ask for ID before selling cigarettes. Those laws don’t exactly ‘criminalize’ anyone, and they certainly don’t put individuals at risk for any legal action (except possibly really stubborn store managers).

  • Jamie Rabold

    yes, Yes, Yes! YES!!!!!!!

  • Trevor

    Its about time. Plastic bags are unnecessary, wasteful, and a source of unsightly trash in our community. We can do better than that!

    To the other points below: 1. A bag ban doesn’t imply “criminality” for people who have a plastic bag, but would rather required business entities to honor the policy in exchange for their permit to operate. No one is proposing plastic bag use becomes a felony. 2. Poverty: U.S and European cities already have this in place. People have not suddenly starved to death for lack of plastic grocery bags. Get real. Reusable bags are inexpensive, durable, and superior to plastic for walking groceries home. A short term incentive plant could ease transition costs. 3. Meat/Fish: Many grocery stores already transitioned to zip-lock style bags for those items to prevent leaky juices, which is far more efficient than using plastic bags.

    Get er’ done Minneapolis.

    • Trevor

      “Incentive plan…not incentive plant. Sorry.

  • Cassandra Crawford

    yes, plastic is toxic and I bet even plastic bags from Minnesota wind up in the oceans and choke the sea life.