Boston to bag the plastic bags starting tomorrow

Boston's ban on thin plastic shopping bags starts at city stores tomorrow, which means you'll either have to bring your own bags or get charged 5 cents for each of the thicker plastic or paper bags the stores will offer as an alternative.

The ban, the brainchild of City Councilors Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain) and Michelle Wu (at large), is intended to reduce the amount of flying trash that winds up in Boston trees, streets and waterways, bring down the amount of greenhouse gases used to make the things and to reduce problems at the company that handles recycled waste for the city, where workers currently spend several hours a day fishing the pesky bags out of their equipment.

O'Malley has estimated Boston residents use 357 million of the things every year.

Fans of dry cleaning, newspapers and fresh fish can relax - the ban does not apply to the bags used to keep freshly cleaned clothes clean, to keep newspapers dry or to keep fish and other food products from leaking all over the other stuff in your recyclable shopping bag on the way home.

The city will immediately begin inspections of large stores - over 20,000 square feet - to ensure compliance. Stores between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet will have until April 1 to worry about snap plastic-bag inspections; smaller stores until July 1.

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Comments

I'm going to save the various

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I'm going to save the various plastic bags I have now and turn them into a vintage fashion statement!!

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Voting is closed. 5

Why couldn't the city have

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Why couldn't the city have mandated biodegradable bags instead of a blanket ban? This is going to suck in the rain and be a tax on the people who can least afford it every time they need just one more bag to carry all their groceries that don't fit in a reusable bag.

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Voting is closed. 18

Blanket ban?

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They're instituting a blanket ban? I get cold -- I can't sleep without a blanket!

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Voting is closed. 11

Hawaii banned them

Hawaii banned them several years ago, except in small stores. The state has its share of poor people, and it rains there, too. Nobody seems to be demanding the return of the bags, maybe because they care about their environment more than some places.

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Voting is closed. 6

About Time.

Boston is a laggard not a leader on this issue.

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Voting is closed. 41

Bags

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The bag ban stinks especially in stores with no self-checkout . The baggers now have to use paper bags that take FOREVER to bag.

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Voting is closed. 9

No they don't have to use paper bags

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You might want to visit the Star Market in Chestnut Hill (if only to see the amazing Cartveyor in action). They use, and Boston will allow, thicker, reusable plastic bags that the baggers know how to quickly fill. And once you get those, you can bring them with you the next time.

And to answer the argument about how that's OK for women, because they have pocketbooks, but poor downtrodden men don't, let's turn to the Facebook discusison on this article:

Men have pockets. A net bag folds up very small.

If they know they are shopping they can bring bags for the purpose. Carrying bags never emasculated my boys or my husband.

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Voting is closed. 34

Holiday gifts!

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they would bring a big laugh and then the recipient would use them!

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Voting is closed. 5

Anyone who knows me would

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Anyone who knows me would stuff my stocking with...good old recyclable reusable disposable free plastic grocery bags.

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Voting is closed. 7

Oddly enough

Those heavy plastic bags from Star Market fold up much more easily than the thin plastic bags do. Fold it in half four times and it fits nicely in your back pocket.

The handles are much more comfortable than those of the thin plastic bags, which is nice if you're carrying the bag any distance. They fit as much as three thin bags, and they might actually sit still in your trunk / footwell instead of rolling around like the cheap bags do, or bounce around on your handlebars without ripping. It's really a plus if more supermarkets start using them.

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Voting is closed. 14

Use to be

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those style bags used to be the standard bags in the 80s when plastic started to really be used.. but of course, gotta save every damn penny so sometime in the late 90s they switched to the sheet thin bags.

And of course the bags have gotten smaller and smaller..

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Voting is closed. 2

At least in Chestnut Hill ...

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No.

I must admit, however, I have not kept up with my Newton bag ordinances, so I don't know if they have a 5-cent-a-bag rule like Boston.

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Voting is closed. 1

I'm not such a fan of those

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I'm not such a fan of those particular bags.

For some reason, they tend to be dirt magnets. And they don't seem to hold more or last longer than traditional plastic bags.

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Voting is closed. 5

5 measly cents. Five pennies.

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5 measly cents. Five pennies. Nothing.

Wonder what stores that won't let you bring your own bag in will do?

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Voting is closed. 7

You must live in a fancy neighborhood.

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America's Food Basket in Fields Corner, for one. You have to check ANY bag--even an empty cloth bag. I asked about this the last time I was there and got a blank stare.

You have seriously never encountered this anywhere?

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Voting is closed. 13

"Check" like a coat??? I've

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"Check" like a coat??? I've never been there, or to any store that makes you check your bag. That's crazy (and I would assume not allowed with this ban; the city should look into this).

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Voting is closed. 17

I have lived in many

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I have lived in many neighborhoods, Roxbury, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, and I have not once had that issue. I'm actually shocked that you apparently think it's so prevalent.

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Voting is closed. 31

Stores that cater to a

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Stores that cater to a population they distrust do this. I can't believe you have never encountered this! Goodwill used to do it, but quit years ago. America's Food Basket is an expensive grocery store that caters to poor people. Will they force customers to buy bags? If so, will the city intervene?

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Voting is closed. 14

I've lived in Chelsea and

I've lived in Chelsea and have spent lots of time working or going to school in Dorchester, Lynn, Cambridge, Salem and Saugus and would say... that I am not shocked you failed to encounter this in Cambridge, Newton or Brookline as those residents would never stand for such a thing.

As for Chelsea, Dorchester, Lynn, Salem and Saugus... I am well versed in the old check your bags system. When paper was a thing there was the staple your bag system. This was much more prevalent back in the old mini mall days before they started tearing them down. The Mystic Mall in Chelsea was very much like this, if I recall the Assembly Square was after they lost their anchors and Building 19 became the top of the heap.

You are/were most likely to find that in discount stores , dollar stores , BD's, Family Dollar type spots (although I do not think Family Dollar itself does this.)

There seems to have been a drop off in this practice in many areas but I think that is due in part to better technology camera wise and also in gentrification. Newer residents are much more likely to put up a stink if you try to force them to check their bags (I assume someone like you would freak out since it seems so foreign to you) where as those of us who had been shopping there for years would just hand over the bags because it was normal.

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Voting is closed. 13

Ann & Hope

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I seem to recall the Ann & Hope at the Arsenal Mall would tape your (plastic, not Gucci) bag shut.

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years ago that was common, now not so much

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though a couple years back, a store in Rozzie required me to check my backpack with the front. (side story, the cashier dropped the pack to the floor instead of placing it on the floor. That broke a plate that was in the pack. I didn't make them pay for it (old, cheap plate) but I hope they stopped dropping their customers' bags).

But in any store that still does bag checking, the cashier would just have to go get the customer's bag. Likely the bag check area and the registers are in the same area anyways (by the front door).

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Voting is closed. 5

But the AFB a few blocks away

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But the AFB a few blocks away on Bowdoin is less strict about this and let's me carry my reuseables (much smaller store).
It is a security issue, and I've checked my reuseables at Fields Corner AFB and then gotten them at checkout (registers right next to desk where my bags were).
I don't love that's the rule, but I understand why they do it to minimize shoplifting.

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Voting is closed. 6

Wallets and purses are not...

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Wallets and purses are not generally included in "check your bag" policies.

It's really rare these days, but when I was a teen and 20-something back in the 80's and early 90's it was fairly common in shops that had a big shoplifting problem, and no security cameras.

If I was carrying a big purse...say as big as a shopping bag...the clerk in charge of holding people's bags would tell me to take my wallet/coin purse/checkbook with me. If I was carrying a smaller purse I could keep it with me, but backpacks and shopping bags were checked.

Now that almost every store has some sort of video surveilance it's really rare for a place to make you check your bags.

Urban Renewals in Allston seems to be the only one left in that area that still does it, but enforcement is haphazard at best. I've been asked to check backpacks, but not my messenger bag on the days I use that instead. I've also not been asked to check my laptop bag, but my reusable shopping bag with the grocery store name on it, I've been asked to check.

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Nope

Then again I'm doing 99% of my shopping in Rosi/WR/Dedham.

They used to have self checkout at the CVS on the VFW but switched back to registers. I assumed that was a 'loss prevention' decision so it's not like this part of town is free of businesses being suspicious of their clientele.

Two Bostons strikes again.

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Voting is closed. 4

I’ve never seen this

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Even shopping in low-rent stores like Save-A-Lot and Price Rite, I’ve never seen that policy. If I did, I’d never go back to that store in a million years.

I do have some sympathy for stores that suffer from a high rate of shoplifting. But you can’t treat all your customers like suspects. If you do, I’m outta there.

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Voting is closed. 5

It adds up. It's called being

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It adds up. It's called being nickel and dimed.

I'd prefer they just roll it into the price of things if they must. Probably work out better for customers.

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Voting is closed. 6

No thanks

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I bring my own bags, I'd rather keep my prices where they are, thanks.

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Voting is closed. 19

Finally!

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Finally, very happy about this. I look forward to a report after a few years of the impact it this makes not only with waste but the local economy as well.

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Voting is closed. 15

What about your muffin?

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Cambridge, in its continual efforts to convince me it is run by insane people, charges you a dime for a paper bag for your bagel at the coffee shop.

I'm all for less waste and a complete ban on plastic bags. But am I really supposed to bring my own reusable bag for that extra-sticky sticky bun?

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Voting is closed. 10

Oh, Cambridge

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The Boston ban deals specifically with the larger bags you'd get at a supermarket or Target or wherever for your grouped purchases, not bagel bags.

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But am I really supposed to

But am I really supposed to bring my own reusable bag for that extra-sticky sticky bun?

So pay the dime. Or bring a tupperware. Or just eat it. #firstWorldProblems

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Voting is closed. 30

Your sticky bun bag has

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Your sticky bun bag has handles? Methinks your favorite sticky bun place is pulling one over on you. I've never been charged anywhere in Cambridge for a paper bag that is directly in contact with food. Now if I want my wrapped sandwich in a bag, they will charge for that.

Any reusable, paper, or compostable bag with handles provided at the point of sale must charge a checkout bag charge minimum of $0.10/bag. Businesses must show this as the “Checkout Bag Charge” on the receipt and collect sales tax on each bag.

https://www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/ourservices/recyclingandtrash/About...

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Voting is closed. 16

A certain store in Harvard

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A certain store in Harvard Square tried to charge me 30 cents for a bag. (Cambridge's law says 10 cents is the minimum, so this is perfectly legal.)

I said no thanks. So I carried my holiday gifts home in my hands. Since I couldn't put my hands in my pockets, I got some seriously chapped skin which still hasn't recovered.

Yes, I could have brought reusable bags. Then again, I also could have given up on transit/walking and independent Harvard Square businesses, and just driven to the mall, where I could dump everything in the car.

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What kind of store?

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That is profiteering. They deserve at least to be described. I don't think Harvard Books at least. They charge what they are supposed to charge.

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People don't curb their dogs

People don't curb their dogs now. Hardly imagine this is going to make the problem WORSE somehow.

Anyone who's diligent about picking up after their dog has a roll on their leash. Anyone who isn't probably forgets to stick a grocery bag in their pocket half the time anyway. Produce bags also work wonders for picking up poop, FYI.

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Voting is closed. 19

Can't answer for Boston...

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I can't answer for the free produce bags that will be used in Boston grocery stores, but the Stop & Shop in Brookline, which has been plastic-bag-free for some years now, uses a cornstarch-based "plastic" for their produce bags.

By being cornstarch-based instead of petroleum-based, those produce bags are now considered to be biodegradable...and thus legal in areas that have banned disposable plastic bags.

I'm going to guess that the cornstarch-based produce bags will become common or the norm in Boston fairly soon.

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Does it take a village to clean up your dog sh*t?

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Do dog owners really feel we all need for stores to give away free bags to everyone so dog owners don't have to spend a few dollars every month or two on dog poop bags? And what are dog owners excuses now, theres dog poop everywhere in parks and sidewalks around Boston, many in bags (inexplicably) so they stick around longer. Is there some similar logic with off -leash dogs illegally running around parks? Do we all need to chip in to buy these people leashes to get them to obey leash laws? Do dog owners feel any responsibility to care for their dog.

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Voting is closed. 24

I know rite?

Dog poops in the park are terrible. On the underside of your picnic blanket, shoe, or squished between one’s toddler’s toes are worse. I speak from experience.

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Good! I'm a firm believer in

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Good! I'm a firm believer in using your own reusable bags. Not only because it just makes sense and you can carry more, but I die a little each time I see one of those plastic bags stuck high up in a tree until it disintegrates. Ugly.

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because i care

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i won't react to this by no longing bagging my dog's shit. but it's so tempting

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"Everyone knows" this is

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"Everyone knows" this is better for the environment.

But where's the data?

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Voting is closed. 6

years in a tree

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A cheap grocery plastic bag sat high up in a tree near my house for (I believe) 5 or 6 years before the shreds finally flew away.

I personally dislike carrying extra bags around when I walk, and I re-purpose most of my grocery bags for a lot of different uses, so I'm sure there will be a few pain points, but I'm eager to see how this works. In the end, I predict we'll be used to it and forget this entire conversation within a couple of years.

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Voting is closed. 5

Thanks to colleges

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Boston is a backpack town. I don't think other cities, without a 100,000 population increase every school year, has backpacks as part of it's local dress style. Plastic bags cant join the various other articles that sit in backpacks (books, paper, documents, guns...).

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Not just colleges

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Like European cities, many people get around by walking and biking.

That means panniers, backpacks, tote bags, messenger bags, and other conveyances for everyday items including tiny folded up packets that turn into shopping bags and fit in even a tiny purse.

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