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Will plastic bag ban affect you?

What’s happened already Plastic shopping bags became popular in recent decades because they are cheap, strong, flexible, easy to use and, after you get them home, have many other uses, such as for wastebasket liners, compost, pet waste, etc. Unfortunately, millions get tossed in landfills or become litter, blowing around, ending up in streams and oceans, even entering the food chain and damaging wildlife. It takes centuries for plastic to degrade, but even then, it’s still plastic and still in the environment, just broken down into its synthetic components. The movement began to get rid of them and use something durable that can make more than one trip to the store. The situation now Scores of cities, including Ashland, have banned plastic bags. However, many stores and chains already got rid of them and reaped environmental kudos. Most such stores charge a dime for paper bags, thus encouraging shoppers to spend a buck or two on fabric bags. Shoppers have gotten in the habit of carrying these in the back of the car, often forgetting them till it became a routine. But change is hard; when bags are available, many shoppers want them.  What happens next Ashland in April banned plastic bags, effective Nov. 6. Businesses are required to provide a paper bag upon request and must charge the customer at least 10 cents for each paper bag. The hope is that people bring their own shopping bags with them when they shop.According to the city's website, the ban applies to bags used to carry items away from a story. It does NOT apply to: bags used inside a store to package items such as fruit or hardware items; wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether packaged or not; to wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items where dampness may be a problem; bag unwrapped prepared foods, such as bakery goods; or pharmacy prescription bags.California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 30 signed a law banning plastic carryout bags statewide, the first state to do so. The ban will be phased in from July 2015 to July 2016, starting with larger stores. Asked at Safeway in Ashland on Friday:How will the Ashland ban affect you? Have you made the change away from plastic bags? "It’s great. It motivated me to remember to bring my reuseable bag. It’s kind of like toughlove. A huge amount of bags go out of stores into our environment — and sometimes they double bag. The ban is a great idea."— Shannon Lilly "The ban is great. I lived in Europe 10 years and they’ve been doing it a long time. We need to take responsibility for what we’re putting in the landfill. I always have my cloth bag. I’m fortunate to have developed the habit already. We need to make it all easier. In Europe, they have places to recycle glass and newspaper nearby to everyone, so they don’t think of it as a chore or inconvenience. This act really matters, no matter how small, if it’s done consciously, because it leads to other positive choices about our environment."—  Susanne Severeid "We’ve been using cloth bags for years. It makes us more conscious of the environment. It may seem a token gesture but a lot of token gestures add up to making a big difference. We see plastic bags all over the place. The news is doing a good job of bringing the problem to our attention." — Jim Nagel "I use the canvas bags. I got them for 99 cents at the discount store and Goodwill. Sometimes I forget them. I used to like the plastic bags for compost liners. They kept things relatively clean. People are very hard-nosed about changing habits and dropping the plastic bags. They were good for garbage and kept the bugs out." — Joan Drager "The plastic bags should be made biodegradable. Cloth bags grow a lot of bacteria in them and we put fresh food in there. Paper bags break and tear but plastic bags don’t. I use plastic bags for garbage. We’re used to the convenience but we’re going to have to go with cloth bags."— Joe Luiz (no photo)

Photos by John Darling.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.