Fred Meyer in Albany, presumably like other stores around the state, has begun telling customers they have only a short time left in the Era of Convenient Shopping.
Signs like the one above appeared this week at Freddy’s self-checkout stations. At the same time, I got the impression that the ready supply of plastic shopping bags available at each station was markedly less.
This, of course, is the result of the legislature’s ban on stores giving customers plastic sacks to carry their stuff to their cars, and from their cars into the house. As everybody who reads the signs is reminded, the ban takes effect three weeks from now, on Jan. 1.
The Department of Environmental Quality, by the way, sent out a press release that has another name for this. The agency calls it the “Sustainable Shopping Initiative.” Of course, if this really was an initiative, people would have quit taking plastic bags from the store on their own. But that didn’t happen. Many of us have appreciated the convenience of getting those bags free, and we have various uses for them, giving the lie to the slogan “single-use plastic bag.”
Whether this change in the law on shopping bags will do anything for sustainability — whatever that means in this context — remains to be seen.
The legislature wants everybody to carry a reusable bag in case they feel a sudden urge to go to the store. Instead, what’s more likely is that shoppers will get paper sacks instead. Whether the manufacture of paper bags is any more environmentally benign than making bags of very thin plastic film remains to be seen.
The paper bags will cost not “.05 cents” as the Fred Meyer notice says but .05 dollars each. That’s 5 cents for people for whom decimal points are unfamiliar signs. Whether that price is enough to cause Oregonians to lay in and frequently renew a supply of reusable bags is something else we’ll have to wait to find out. (hh)