Bag Ban: Speak Out!

Paper or plastic? It’s a question we hear every time we go to the grocery store. Soon, shoppers and merchants in Traverse City may lose that option. Last week, representatives from the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) put a proposal before city commissioners to ban the use of single-use plastic bags in Traverse City.

Commissioners didn’t enact an ordinance, but they did pass a resolution encouraging city and city businesses to implement the use of recyclable and reusable containers and bags, such as those the Downtown Traverse City Association created and began selling for $1 at local merchants last summer. 

Representatives from NMEAC hope to meet soon with downtown merchants to discuss their questions and concerns relative to of the proposed ban. M’Lynn Hartwell, a member of the Clean Energy Now national initiative and NMEAC spokesperson, says if a ban happened, it would be a win-win situation for all. "It would improve environmental quality and the cost of doing business," she says. "If we do it right, everybody wins. That’s what we’re trying to achieve." She adds that Traverse City merchants could put their logo on reusable bags and use them as a way to help develop their brand identity.

Hartwell says, ideally, the proposed ordinance would phase in a ban over time. "It would happen organically," she says.

Would plastic be totally eliminated? Would a shopper unfamiliar with the ban have no option for carrying his goods out of the store unless he had a reusable sack handy? Hartwell says there’s talk of keeping single-use plastic bags available but associating a small charge to the shopper for using each one during the phase out period to encourage the switch to reusable bags. 

Speak Out!

What do you think of the proposed ban? Would you like to see single-use plastic bags banished from Traverse City? Or do you think there’s a better option? What should shoppers, merchants and NMEAC consider while weighing the ban? Tell us what you think by commenting below!

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    While certainly beneficial to the environment, this is a clever way for the incorporated City of Traverse City to squeeze a few more bucks from the swim trunks of locals and tourists.

    Not to mention how enamored most Fudgies will be toting their compulsory carry-bag around, and how likely they will be to return and use it again.

    Well played, downtown TC, well played.

  • Anonymous

    Agree that our tourist supported town should think this through with that in mind. And so it wouldn’t ban paper bags? Could visitors use those without charge? I think its best to incent in a positive way … local groceries give me a discount when I bring my canvas bags, and that makes me feel organized and smart; if they charged me for the reverse, I’d feel punished.

    I’d have to change the way I handle a couple chores if I never got another single-use plastic bag … if I use it again isn’t it a multi-use?

    cat litter removal: would paper work? what if litter was wet, difficult to tie top

    poison ivy disposal: with plastic you can grab the poisonous vines using the bag as a second glove and then pull the bag over the leaves and tie it off. I don’t have to worry about bumping into it on brush piles, or as I push it into paper bags

    plant sharing: I put my divided plants that I’m giving to friends in these bags, then to plant them without tipping the plant on it’s head, my friends can just tear the bag out from under

    mini garbage bags for the bathroom wastebasket: I guess I could use paper or just empty the baskets into a big kitchen one

  • Anonymous

    I think that this “ban” needs much more consideration and more questions need to be addressed. I personally recycle, reuse and am aware of my household consumptions…and have for many years.

    I watched the city meeting and one person was speaking and while they were doing so they were tossing plastic bags on the floor. I understand the point but they were all from box stores..Target and Meijer (that I could read). So my question is why not start with a place like Meijer? Local is easier and more people will be on board… ok. I then looked at my Meijer bag and they are a number “2″ (which Grand Traverse does take). Why promote that they can be recycled? Plastic bags on the roads, hurting animals and flying around in the street…if the peopel would not litter and have some respect for our enviroment and the animals we would not have this problem…answer? Education and availability.

    Why does TC only recycle #1 and #2?It goes up to #8.
    Why not put recycling bins around the downtown, better yet, the area?
    Why not put bins to collect the grocery bags in front of the stores?
    Many plastic bags are made of recycled materials and are a #2. Oil, is that a problem? Yes. Well these reusable bags are also made from oil also. When paper bags are bought they weight more… in turn they use more gas…in turn creates more pollution.

    Like I stated before there are many more questions that need to be addressed before we add one more cost to the locals, tourist and merchants especially in these hard economical times.
    Thank You

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE this idea! While we should most certainly recycle existing plastic bags, encouraging the phasing out of them downtown is going to force even nonrecycling people to benefit the environment.

    Getting the big box stores to go along sounds great, but I imagine those big boxes are bound up in some serious corporate red tape, which means implementing a bag ban with them could take decades.

    I say, let’s show them the way by starting with the downtown merchants—people who live in and love TC are more likely to make bold, forward-thinking moves that’ll benefit the city.

    Big Box stores don’t care so long as we keep the dollars rolling into corporate HQ!

    So today we work with downtown TC, and tomorrow we take on the world. (Or at least Target.)

  • Anonymous

    Typical ecomarxist foolishness. This plan will be a pain in the butt for the tourists which support this economy. Of course the environazis are more concerned about the environment than their fellow human beings. We live in a depressed state with a 9% unemployment rate. They want to impose a foolish law that will have a minute impact on the environment but completely annoy the people who keep our community afloat economically. Bravo, Great insight.