Plastic bags check out of Aspen library |

Plastic bags check out of Aspen library

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado
Owen O'Farrell of Aspen puts books into his backpack Friday at the Pitkin County Library in Aspen. To be more environmentally friendly, the library recently instituted a "Bring Your Own Bag" policy instead of providing plastic bags. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” You won’t be getting a free plastic bag to tote your treasures home from the Pitkin County Library anymore.

A sign at the library checkout desk tells visitors that, thanks to a decision by the library board, staff will no longer provide plastic bags “because of environmental concerns.”

“We’re trying to not add to the problem,” county librarian Kathy Chandler said.

For years, Pitkin County Library staff has handed out heavy plastic bags to people checking out books and other materials ” bags that “took hundreds of years to rot,” Chandler said.

The library board recently decided to do away with the practice.

Instead, library officials bought some 3,000 “BioBags,” a thin, biodegradable bag staff will hand out.

“If you really need a bag, we’ll hand those out,” said Jocelyn Durrance, assistant director of the Pitkin County Library. But once the BioBags are gone, that’s it, she added.

“We are going to have a slow migration,” Durrance said.

In coming months, library patrons will have a choice of three reusable bags on sale at the checkout counter, Durrance said.

Beginning with a $1 reusable bag similar to those available at City Market, the library will also offer a $4 nylon “Chico Bag” that folds into a pouch. The most expensive option is a full canvas bag that will sell for about $7 and can carry 15 to 20 children’s books and three “big, heavy art books,” Durrance said.

“Hopefully the public will become educated and know that they need to bring their own bags,” Durrance said.

“The county is trying to do whatever they can to make things better,” Chandler said, and eliminating bags at the library is just one part.

In fact, Chandler said, borrowing books from the library is the ultimate recycling effort. Many books are donated and those that aren’t used are composted at the county landfill. And availing oneself of “shared resources” means people aren’t going out and buying costly and wasteful paper products ” an effort that goes even beyond offering better plastic bags, Chandler said.

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