No love for bag ban in Telluride
October 6, 2011
I went on a fall color tour that took me to Telluride. I spent a little time looking into whether the banning of plastic grocery bags is working there. Here’s what I found:
It seems to be working for Clark’s Market, as they have sold thousands of “green” bags for $2 a piece since the March ban. These “green” bags are made in China and are not recyclable as they are made of various materials, including plastic and cloth.
They have also sold more than 1,000 paper bags per month at 10 cents a piece, proceeds going to the city of Telluride.
A policeman told me that the ban has “unconvinced people and they are angry.”
The landfill is reportably full of both the green bags and paper bags.
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Tourists are “very, very angry” about the ban – seems they don’t pack their reusable bags when they go on vacations.
The employees at both grocery stores all agreed that they do not like the ban and people are angry, they said. The locals are angry at themselves for forgetting their bags and the tourists are “really angry” at the city for imposing the ban – and at the store clerks; they say to them, “you don’t have to charge me.”
Two people told me they are happy about the ban, and they also both told me that they drive to Montrose for most of their food and supplies once a week, as it is “so much cheaper,” even with gas being $3.50 a gallon (at a 78-mile round-trip, that gas could be making 16 plastic bags per mile for a total of 1,248 bags).
The stores now have to store all those paper bags, which take up quite a bit of storage, while the plastic ones took up no space. A clerk said to me, “I wonder how much is the carbon footprint for making these paper bags and then recycling them?” That is, if they get recycled, because the tourists don’t recycle, and the hotel we stayed in replaced our trash bag in the bath and in the bedroom everyday even if only one tissue was in it. They also washed the towels, even though we had them hung up nicely.
I stood outside both stores for 30 minutes each and counted:
At the local small market, seven shoppers brought their own bag or backpack; 20 carried their items in their arms, no bag; five bought a paper bag.
At the large grocery store where there is a parking lot, 18 brought their own bag; 13 carried their items in their arms, no bag; three used veggie bags to carry items; six bought a paper bag.
My favorite was the guy who brought his own bags and filled them with bottled water. I found out that manufacturers won’t recycle a bottle more than once, and they only recycle plastic No. 1 and No. 2.