The second time we checked out of a store in Hawaii, I noticed it.
Plastic bags weren't on the top of my mind during a recent vacation, but they quickly came to the surface inside a gift shop in Honolulu. It was the second store that handed us our items in a paper bag.
Each of Hawaii's five counties (each island is its own county) has a ban on traditional polyethylene plastic bags at checkout — effectively the nation's only statewide ban on bags. The county laws allow stores to hand out paper bags, reusable cloth bags or thick plastic bags at no charge.
My wife and I went to a grocery store, and got a few items for the next day. We checked out, and once again received our items in a paper bag.
“Did you notice anything different about checking out here?” I asked as we left the store.
“No,” my wife responded, puzzled at the question.
And such is life in the land of a plastic bag ban. Life went on, and people seemingly didn't miss the “single-use” plastic bag. (Full disclosure: I often find more than one use for my plastic bags at home in Michigan, and the leftovers go back to the store for recycling. In fact, we had three “single-use” bags with us in Hawaii, with shoes and other items inside that we didn't want rattling around loose inside our luggage.)
For the rest of the trip, I couldn't shake the thought of plastic bags. I kept my eyes peeled for bags on the roadside or beach, but didn't see a single plastic bag. I did see a paper bag on the roadside though. Our hotel in Kauai gave us a large reusable bag at check in with two bottles of water in it.