Re-Visiting the Bag Ban

At the start of this month a year ago, the state of Washington imposed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The plastic grocery bags we all grew up with were “sacked” and a new, heavier duty reusable plastic bag was introduced. What’s not to love, right?

Well, the new bags came with a price. If you go to Walmart, Rosauers, Target, or any other retailer, you must pay 8 cents for a bag. If you scoff at forking out some extra coins for what used to be free, you are more than welcome to use your own tote bags or simply carry your items in your hands. In fact, that is what the state wants. In the name of a healthier environment, Washington prefers that you are disgusted about the bag fee and refuse to pay for them.

Almost a year to the date, I wrote a blog post that examined the ban and new bag fee. I wrote this: It will be interesting to see how this ban is embraced statewide. I wonder where our family will stand a year from now. Will we be bringing our own tote bags into Safeway? Or will we be hanging onto the original eight bags we bought at the end of last week?

This photo was taken a year ago when I brought the new 8-cent bags home for the first time.

It turns out that the answer to both those questions I asked in October 2021 is a big, fat NO.

Although Sidney has tote bags, she doesn’t use them anymore. And those eight bags we purchased the initial week of the ban? We used them the first day we brought them home. Whether for diaper disposal, lunch packing, or toy holder, we utilized them in the exact same ways we used their flimsier cousins.

As it turns out, the ban and bag fee did little to change our habits. When we go to the grocery store, we don’t blink at the bag fee. We just use as many bags necessary to corral our groceries and happily pay the designated toll. Besides, the new bags are larger and sturdier than the ones used pre-October 2021 so we rarely use more than six bags when we go grocery shopping. That adds a whopping 56 cents to our bill.

In my opinion, I actually think it is a bargain! As I have already said multiple times, these bags are considerably better than their predecessors. Put me down for TWENTY bags per visit if you want. I assure you, we will gladly use them for other purposes once we unpack our groceries at home.

I would be interested to know about metrics related to the ban. There is no doubt that it has cut down plastic bag consumption to some degree. I know not everyone purchases them like they are going out of style. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the purge isn’t as significant as hoped.

In the end, I like to think the adjustments made last year resulted in a win-win for everyone involved. A step was taken to reduce the use of plastic bags but those who wanted to continue using them were given a superior alternative at a cheap price. Go Washington! Don’t Blink.

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