Citizens and local politicians are dealing with plastic bag litter issues, especially in California and Hawaii. Three stories caught my eye this week because they all illustrate a different way to attack the problem. Encinitas, Calif., near San Diego, is taking the classic "ban the bag" approach. This story from the San Diego Union-Tribune captures the tone of the Sept. 10 meeting where the City Council voted 3-2 to pursue a ban, "drawing cheers from environmental activists in the audience." The Surfrider Foundation was the driving force behind the ban -- this is a group that seems to be gaining political clout. Watch for its grassroots-style effort to pop up elsewhere around the country -- even around the world. Telluride and Aspen, Colo., took a different approach, with a voluntary effort to get consumers to use fewer bags that I blogged about earler this summer. Well, the results are in, and organizers are calling it a success. For those who don't remember, the two resort cities had a competition to see which could use fewer plastic bags from May 24 (Memorial Day weekend) to Sept. 1 (Labor Day weekend). It turns out that Telluride's residents used 29,351 reusable bags at local grocery stores, compared to the 26,793 bags in Aspen. The sponsors of the contest, the Community Office of Resource Efficiency in Aspen and Sheep Mountain Alliance in Telluride. In Aspen, estimate that the towns eliminated more than 140,000 plastic shopping bags from being used this summer, according to this report in The Aspen Times. Finally, there's this approach by the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Recycling Council of Ontario today announced a six-month pilot project where participating merchants will sell or give away reusable bags, and then offer customers incentives to remember to bring them back to the store. Organizers will keep track of the number of reusable bags sold, and the number of single-use bags saved, to evaluate the effectiveness of the program next year. I like the voluntary approaches, and hope that they're successful.
Three ways to deal with plastic bags
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