Another Colorado ski town says no to plastic bags

Plastic bags can be found in the most remote of places, including near Pawnee Buttes in northeastern Colorado.

Avon joins other Colorado ski towns in

ban of plastic bags

by Allen Best

AVON, Colo. – The Colorado ski town of Avon has joined eight other towns and cities in Colorado that have prohibited merchants from giving out disposable plastic shopping bags.

The ban began May 1, but the town council passed the ordinance last September, with the hope that it would give shoppers at Walmart and Home Depot along with other, smaller stores time to prepare.

Avon, however, may push further than others, as elected officials are scheduled to renew a discussion in June of a proposed ban on disposable polystyrene foam products, such as are commonly used to package fast food. Styrofoam is one branded polystyrene product.

San Francisco was the first jurisdiction in the United States to ban the practice of merchants of giving shoppers free single-liner plastic bags. That was in 2007. Since then, hundreds of other cities have done so in the United States. California has a state-wide ban and Hawaii a de facto state-wide ban.

On the flip side are states that refuse to allow local jurisdictions to enact bans. They include Idaho and Arizona.

Avon allows exemptions for newspaper bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, and so forth. Retailers can, if they wish, provide paper bags in lieu of the banned plastic bags, but only if they charge 10 cents a bag. That fee must be tacked on to the bill of customers because, the town says, the intent is to encourage customers to shop with reusable bags.

Preston Neill, Avon’s deputy town manager, said the town’s bag ban was rooted in consideration over the environmental impacts of plastic bags. The bags may tear apart, but the plastic itself does not break down.

He said that he had been at the big-box retailers in recent weeks to remind shoppers of the upcoming ban. Most were aware, but some had missed the every-other-week advertisements in the Vail Daily, as well as other outreach efforts. “There wasn’t as much pushback as I had expected,” he said.

Telluride was the first local government in Colorado to ban bags, but only at grocery stories. Others that now have bans are Aspen, Boulder, Breckenridge, Carbondale, and Crested Butte. Vail, located a few miles from Avon, also instituted a ban in 2015.

Basalt, located near Aspen, also had a ban, but it was overturned. A bag-ban effort also failed in Glenwood Springs.

In Utah, Park City adopted a ban several years ago, and now seventh-grade students at a local private school have proposed a ban in Summit County. Park City is the county’s largest city.

The students made the proposal after visiting the local landfill and then studying the process by which laws are adopted. Most of all, reports The Park Record, the students learned how complicated law-making can be.

Plastic – not just plastic bags – is proliferating on the landscape. It’s almost impossible to find a place on the settled planet where you don’t see plastic bags festooned on barbed wire fences, snagged in trees, washing down river and streams. And, of course, there is the famous image of the giant plastic blob in the Pacific Ocean.

The Idaho ski town of Ketchum several years ago banned distribution of plastic bottles at festivals.

Students pushing straw-less policies at restaurants

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Students in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee area of the Sierra Nevada have been out making the rounds, trying to persuade restaurants that it’s time for the last straw.

South Lake Tahoe, the municipality, earlier this year adopted a ban on polystyrene, a type of plastic. The ordinance requires restaurants to ask people if they want straws instead of delivering them automatically.

Lake Tahoe News reports that the students have been visiting restaurants and other businesses, seeking to persuade them to curtail straws altogether, as two of them have already done or make them available only upon request, as South Lake Tahoe requires.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe has provided reusable bamboo straws.

Lake Tahoe News says that more than 500 million single-used plastic straws get thrown away in the United States every day. It does not cite the source of that estimate.

Allen Best

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