Oahu Plastic Bag Ban: How’s It Going So Far?

It’s now been just over a month since the City and County of Honolulu enacted the plastic bag ban, and what you’re seeing above is exactly what I and others that recognize the loophole in this law were afraid would cause: more non-compostable plastic in the rubbish cans than ever before! As in double the thickness of non-compostable “non-reusable” plastic bags being thrown away. And no, I’m not singling out Don Quijote by using that photo (I LOVE that store!), their bag just so happened to be what was there at this public rubbish can at the moment.

Personally, I’ve been responsible with the new ban, reusing whatever “resuable” plastic bags  I purchase at the checkout, which usually are 10 cents each.

However I’m sure there’s folks who still aren’t comfortable or used to the idea of bringing their reusable plastic bags back with them to the store.

I actually really like the thicker, larger reusable plastic bags, as they hold more heavy things, allowing me to stuff more in less bags that I need to carry out of my car and hold in the elevator.

What’s interesting is, one time recently I was at the checkout at the Don Quijote on Kaheka, and the cashier bagging my groceries kept stuffing each reusable bag I had to the RIM, and I was like, “OK, you can use another bag, that’s enough in there”. To which she smiled as if relieved, telling me how so many customers she deals with are very hesitant in purchasing any more reusable plastic bags for 10 cents each than absolutely, absolutely necessary. Grinding another 10 cent reusable bag out of them is like twisting their arm. I’m like, well if that’s the case, BRING YOUR REUSABLE BAGS BACK WITH YOU TO SHOP! HELLO!

Actually, more so than buying reusable plastic bags, I’ve also been making good use of my Reusable Eco Bags, which are the ones usually made of a more durable material such as fiber-reinforced plastic, or better yet cloth or canvas. Many local retailers offer these even more reusable-encouraging “Eco Bags” for about $1 to $2 each, which surely holds more value to the consumers buying them, hence encouraging reuse.

Which is worth noting should really be the only option other than compostable paper bags, with reusable and “compostable” plastic bags not even being an option. However I understand from a retailers perspective the need to have bagging options for the customers, otherwise it could affect the bottom line at the checkouts. Still, if there’s an urgent need to protect the environment, which there is, shouldn’t EVERYONE make the sacrifice? Anyways, I’m not going to sit here all day and make a debate over it.

That said, I keep both the reusable Eco Bags and reusable plastic bags folded up in the back of my car and TRY to remember to bring them into the store with me. However there are times when I still forget and have to go back out to my car to get them. I’ll eventually make it a routine habit to remember my reusable bags whenever I go shopping. Which I might note, I tend to use a shopping basket vs. shopping cart, as I just hate pushing carts around a store.

The hard part is for folks on foot, as who wants to carry reusable bags with them while walking around? They’re the ones (I myself walk a lot too) usually forced to either buy a reusable bag, settle for the super thin “compostable” plastic bags (usually free), settle for the “junk” paper bags (hard to hold while walking, being they can tear and often don’t have handles), or just won’t buy that many things that require a bag.

What I really can’t wait to see are factual statistics from our local landfills come next July, and whether or not the plastic bag ban really did reduce how much non-compostable plastic bags — whether reusable or not — are landing in there. If it gets worse, the only solution may be to ban all plastic bags.

For more information, please visit:
City & County of Honolulu (Oahu) Plastic Bag Ban – Opala.org
Loophole undermines Hawaii Plastic Bag Ban – Huffington Post