Starting Friday, ‘paper or plastic’ no longer an option for Edmonds shoppers

Starting Friday, “paper or plastic” will no longer be a choice when shopping in Edmonds, as the city’s ban on single-use “checkout bags” at retail establishments takes effect.

Friday marks exactly one year since the Edmonds City Council adopted Ordinance No. 3749, which requires all retail establishments to comply by the first anniversary of passage. The ordinance also established an educational campaign — including a poster contest for local students — aimed at educating retailers and residents about the benefits of using disposable bags.

Bags provided solely for produce, bulk food or meat are not included in the ban. Also exempt are bags provided to carry out food cooked or prepared at a restaurant or other similar food and beverage establishment.

Here are a few tips from the city to help you make the transition to the new policy:

– Keep your reusable shopping bags in a location where you will remember them as you leave the house, or keep them in your car so you always have them with you.

– Don’t forget your reusable bags in the car! Use whatever type of reminder works best for you to make sure you grab your reusable bags on your way into the store.

– Bring one or two more reusable bags with you into the store than you think you’ll need just in case you buy more items than planned.

– If you forget your reusable bags or don’t have enough, ask the sales person for a paper bag or purchase a reusable bag from the establishment.

– Think twice about having the retailer provide you with a single-use bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry. If you’re buying more items than you can carry without a bag, ask the retailer to use as few bags as possible.

  1. If I were a business, I’d consider relocating away from Edmonds. This is simply going to inconvenience consumers, who aren’t required to shop in Edmonds in the first place. I’m for saving the Earth, but not for having government dictate how I ought to manage my shopping. I think it’s a big mistake, and if the school teacher-ish tone of this article is any indication of what’s to come, I think others will quickly tire of this well-intended, but misguided attempt at forced conservation.

  2. Steve,

    It would be interesting to hear from more of the business owners and consumers that share your concerns. Today I read an article in the Herald where a council member stated “only a handful” of business owners objected to this ban. What were the specific objections?

    As a local consumer I would think the inconvenience travelling to do business elsewhere would offset the inconvenience of providing my own bags. At one time acquiring reusable bags may have been an issue, but it seems that these reusable bags are commonly being offered as a freebies. With hardly any effort or expense on my part, we must have a dozen of these at the house now.

  3. Now the city council should do something that would really make a difference, like mandatory recycling for everyone in the city. No plastic bags or Styrofoam containers in our community really doesn’t address the problems with our environment. Making recycling mandatory would have a major effect on our landfills.

    I tried to take my recyclables to the Snohomish facility this past week and was shocked to see it closed before 5:30. Snohomish and Edmonds has a long way to go when it comes to recycling.

  4. Pspehar:

    I see there is a solution for the bags. However, I think my dry cleaner is still sending me home with plastic bags. So, the question is whether the City just spent a ton of money passing legislation that is not enforced or does it exclude dry cleaners.

  5. I just read the ordinance and I still do not know the answer. But, I thought it was interesting that the ordinance sites recycling of plastic bags as its main environmental concern however, seems to neglect that it creates a bigger carbon trail to manufacture a paper bag.

  6. Yea! Europe has done this for years — about time we got into the act — hopefully other cities will see the wisdom of this soon — way better than charging a nickle per bag.

    And get serious — this is NOT going to be inconvenient for stores — shoppers will get used to it (except for a few who’s complain forever) — in Europe, you bring your own bags and you bag your own groceries and no one even blinks about this — why on Earth not? Reusable bags are for sale almost everywhere for as little as 99 cents.

  7. Banning plastic bags….in a wet climate. Nicely done, Edmonds City Council. Onward to Styrofoam. How about banning disposable diapers next?
    Rather than working with the local businesses who actually have to deal with such bans (and who would likely be very willing to work with the City on reducing the use of bags and stryofoam)… just ban it.
    Edmonds is quickly becoming a very quirky, unpredictable city with the oddest bunch of ordinances coming out of the City Council. Add the proposed Transportation Benefit District car tab tax increase (of “only $40 more), and Edmonds is just looking very odd indeed. At $60 per car/per year it will, at least, be the most expensive city in Washington to have a car registered.

  8. pspehar:

    The written word is often mis-read. So, please forgive me, if I have misread the tome you are using. To me, it sounds like you are trying to get into an argument. I am not trying to get into an argument with you about what is environmentally sound. I am just trying to figure out what my dry cleaner is required to do and what I should be prepared for.

    Regarding the money, when one is talking about raising taxes, any money spent on legislation that is not being enforced is a waste. I agree with Diane T., above.

  9. I wasn’t trying to get into an argument, but rather further a discussion. I meant to state that closer examination of this topic leads to questions. This is likely one positive side effect of this legislation whether enforced or not. Plastic bag bans in the news will get people thinking about limited resources and pollution. Maybe that’s the point? Getting people focused on our resources and the long term effects might just be worth the immediate legislation cost. Putting the cost numbers out there would help to determine this.

  10. Legislation shouldn’t be to get people thinking about a topic.
    The City Council passed an ordinance which will affect all of us in Edmonds. The consequences, good and bad, should have been considered before passage. The economic cost of both the legislation and the ban itself should have been fully explored.
    If the plastic bag ban isn’t going to be enforced, then it was an expensive “thought” experiment on the Council’s part.
    Why must we “get people thinking”? I was under the impression that the electorate in Edmonds is very well informed, active, and certainly smart enough to figure out if a mandatory “ban” is good policy. You would have to be in a cave not to be aware of and have an opinion about “environmental” issues.

  11. DT:
    “Legislation shouldn’t be to get people thinking about a topic.” You are correct that this should not be the primary goal, but it can be a beneficial side effect. I think this particular legislation is a great demonstration judging by the press it has received.

    “The City Council passed an ordinance which will affect all of us in Edmonds. The consequences, good and bad, should have been considered before passage. The economic cost of both the legislation and the ban itself should have been fully explored.”
    Is it proven that these considerations and explorations were overlooked?

    “If the plastic bag ban isn’t going to be enforced, then it was an expensive “thought” experiment on the Council’s part.”
    I was not aware that the ban would not be enforced. I can’t agree that education is an expensive thought experiment.

    “Why must we “get people thinking”?”
    Poor choice of words on my part. Keeping people thinking would have been better. Sure we all know what is right and wrong, but cheap and easy is a hard habit to break. I often find myself using plastic bags and forgetting the reusable ones at home. The bag ban and related education push will keep it towards the front of my consciousness.

    As for the ambiguity about dry cleaning bags, I am assume this was an overlooked segment of plastic bag usage. The number of plastic bags used for dry cleaning versus those used at checkout stands is likely quite a bit lower.

  12. Free Bring Your Own Bag Reminder
    We all know the harmful effects of plastic bags on our environment both on our planet and its animals. The momentum around reusable bags is strong and continues to grow with everything from incentives to legislated bans for single use plastic bags. Bringing your own bags is such a simple action and one that can have a huge impact on the environment. That being said, change is difficult and the biggest challenge for most people is remembering their bags when they shop., an online community of earth friendly individuals, is offering a FREE car window static cling to help remind you to bring your bags. It also has the added benefit of demonstrating your commitment to the environment to others. If you or someone you know forgets their bags, go to to get your free static cling. Together we can make a difference!!!

  13. Uhoh..have you noticed the increase of doggy doo around town? I almost stepped in pile on sidewalk in front of Reliable Floors…has anyone given the thought of what to do for dog walkers and their plastic bags? We may need to hang some biodegradable ones around town!

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