Green Efforts: Oliver’s Blue Bag

April is upon us and Earth day is ready to be celebrated again. Oliver’s is celebrating Earth Day with a commemorative Earth Day re-usable bag. Many benefits come from using this bag instead of a “single-use” paper or plastic bag. This topic is on the fore front of local politics. The timing of earth day and plastic bag ban coincide well and provide good incentive to re-evaluate this pressing issue and take appropriate action.

Oliver’s re-usable bag solves many problems created by single-use plastic and paper bags. Plastic and paper use tremendous resources during their lifecycle; including petroleum, trees, water, energy, and creation of Greenhouse Gases. Every time you use your Oliver’s re-usable bag, you eliminate a single-use bag from the system. This means it doesn’t go to the landfill or recycling center (10% of plastic bags are recycled in Sonoma County), reducing space and causing problems by getting caught in equipment. Oliver’s re-usable bags are washable and contain no heavy metals.

The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency has been holding public meetings in each of the nine cities in the County to engage citizens and gauge our desires. I have attended three meetings. The question: should the county government put a ban on “carry out” plastic bags? “Carry-out” bags are defined as plastic and paper bags you receive at the checkout line in any retail store. This ordinance, which is modeled after San Jose would eliminate plastic bags from retail stores with restaurants and nonprofit charitable organizations exempt. This ban would not affect produce plastic bags. Additional facets of this ordinance would put a mandatory fee on paper bags. Starting at 10 cents for two years and increasing to 25 cents there after. All paper bags would have to contain a minimum of 40 post consumer recycled content (PCR).

The purpose of this ban is not to switch from plastic to paper. Both carry detrimental environmental factors throughout their lifecycle. The purpose of this ban is to change people’s habits from single-use to infinite-use (or the maximum uses one can get out of their re-usable bag).

Oliver’s fully supports this ban. It is imperative that there be an ordinance to ensure that no competitive edge is gained through different practices amongst the grocery industry in Sonoma County. This ordinance allows all retailers to exhibit environmentally and socially responsible behavior, while not disrupting or creating competitive advantage.

Additionally, I would like to ask our patrons to examine their produce and bulk plastic bag usage. All items in the produce section can be rung up without the use of a plastic bag. If you prefer using plastic bags in produce for sanitation or capture of moisture from produce, please entertain two viable alternatives. One, purchase re-usable cloth bags (which can also be used for bulk products). Two, re-use the plastic produce bags. Throw your produce plastic bags in your re-usable grocery bag and use them as many times as you can, before grabbing a new bag.

If you would like to have your opinion heard, comments can be sent to: Patrick Carter, Waste Management Specialist, Patrick.carter@sonomacounty.org  More information can be attained at www.recylenow.org

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