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Chicago Bans Plastic Bags, Retailers Balk

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No More Plastic Bags in Chicago
No More Plastic Bags in Chicago

For a long time, store cashiers would ask, “Paper or plastic?” but after a while, since plastic bags were so cheap, there was very little reason to even keep the paper bags on the racks.

Indeed, asking for paper bags today can get you a strange look. Plastic bags, however cheap and convenient they may be, and in spite of their supposed biodegradability, which may take decades or centuries, plastic bags are an environmental nuisance. Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, you can’t even escape to the highlands of Perú, where very few stores even accept a credit card for payment (just two in my town), and not find plastic bag litter. Practically everything comes in plastic bags, whether shopping in the open-air market, here in Carhuáz, or in the Wal-Mart Supercenter, on West North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Actually, soon you won’t find plastic bags at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, or any other 10,000 ft2+ retailer in Chicago, because the Chicago City Council has banned plastic bags in those retailers, starting August, 2015. Smaller chain stores and franchises will have to eliminate plastic bags from their service offerings by August, 2016. Soon, the Windy City will significantly reduce the number of wind-driven plastic bags floating through the skies, stuck in trees, clogging storm drains, or taking up non-biodegradable space in landfills.

This sounds like good news, but at least one of ten dissenting voters voiced her objection to the ban on plastic bags, saying, “grocers are already reluctant to come to [the] community, and we’re gonna give them more reason by banning plastic bags.” Alderman Leslie Hairston went on to say, “I’m tired of focusing on things that hurt people instead of helping people.” Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, mirrored Hairston’s thoughts, saying, “…forcing customers to pay more at the store while not helping the environment flies in the face of the city’s goal to make Chicago one of the nation’s greenest cities and support companies that have invested significantly in Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

Photo credit: European Parliament / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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