Would you like a free, reusable bag for your groceries today?
That was the greeting many people received before entering Truckee’s Safeway and Save Mart on Sunday morning, the first day of the town’s plastic bag ban.
“I think it’s great because I see those plastic bags blowing all over the place,” said Meredith Walkington, of Truckee, before heading into Safeway. “We never should have had them in the first place, and they shouldn’t have lasted as long as they did.”
Others shoppers, however, were less supportive of the new law.
Diane Sullivan, of Bakersfield, Calif., said she’ll go elsewhere to do her grocery shopping now.
“Wait until you get these tourists in town,” she said. “They are going to be very upset. They’re hot and tired, and they’ve been on the road for hours (when) they’re coming into the store to get their stuff and then they’re hit with that (charge).”
Those who don’t bring reusable bags will be charged a minimum 10-cent fee per recycled paper or reusable bag at check out. Stores will keep money generated by the fee to help offset the cost of buying paper bags.
On Sunday, a few people could be seen walking out of Safeway with paper bags, while others carried their unbagged groceries in their hands. Yet, the majority came with reusable bags, either from home or supplied to them.
Outside Safeway and Save Mart, Truckee High School Envirolution Club members handed free reusable bags supplied by the town to customers.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” said Savannah Wilkinson, an Envirolution member, outside Safeway. “Almost everyone has been really excited about it. … That’s been really encouraging — those positive responses.”
In addition, Safeway offered free reusable bags for customers who spend $25 or more on their groceries.
According to the law, retailers can provide free reusable bags to customers as a promotional event. However, such promotions cannot exceed 90 days in any consecutive 12-month period.
While Truckee residents Andre Ciszak and his wife, Kathleen Lubman, used plastic and paper bags before the ban, they don’t expect the switch to reusable to be a problem.
“It’s no big deal,” Ciszak said. “Everybody has been doing it for years.”
While the ordinance applies to all Truckee grocery and retail establishments, roughly a dozen businesses were given an exemption upon request so they could use their remaining stock of plastic bags, said Nichole Dorr, recycling coordinator for the town. They will need to comply by Dec. 1.
“Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll just see less pollution and less plastic floating around in the environment,” she said. “I think for us, the bigger message is to just start reducing single-use in general. It’s not necessarily about getting rid of plastic and the paper issue; it’s just all about being a more conscious consumer, and really paying attention to all your little small actions because they do add up to a bigger impact.”