It's in the bag: More grocery shoppers go green

Christine and John Overmire, shown at Metropolitan Market in Federal Way, have been using reusable bags for 30 years. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
Christine and John Overmire, shown at Metropolitan Market in Federal Way, have been using reusable bags for 30 years.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

A bill banning plastic bags didn't take off last year, but that doesn't mean the days of plastic bags aren't numbered.

Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, has once again brought the issue to the Legislature, hoping to ban all non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Even if the bill fails again, change is already coming.

In Federal Way, reusable bags have surged in popularity.

"People use them pretty consistently," Top Foods manager Jackie Rayford said.

Rayford estimates that in the past year or so, the number of customers using reusable grocery bags increased from about 10 percent to more than 50 percent.

Top Foods gives a 5-cent-per-bag discount on grocery bills for using reusable bags.

"People will literally run out to their cars when they forget," Rayford said.

The Federal Way Top Foods buys its plastic bags by the pallet, each pallet holding about 36,000 bags and costing between $500-600 a pallet. The store went from using a pallet and a half per month to less than a pallet per month.

Trader Joe's has also seen a dramatic increase in customers using reusable bags. The store sells upwards of 50 bags a day, manager Guy Herman said.

"People have really been increasing their use," Herman said.

Christine and John Overmire have been using reusable bags for years, and have tried using their bags all over the country — much to the confusion of grocers elsewhere.

"It's amazing how most of the country does not recycle," John said. "We would put the bags up (on the counter) and they would ask what this was for."

"Or they would try and put the plastic bags inside the boat bags," Christine added. "It was like, that's not the point!"

Plastic damage

Plastic makes up 80 percent of the volume of litter on roads, parks and beaches. Plastic makes up 90 percent of floating litter in the ocean. In every square mile of ocean, there are more than 46,000 pieces of plastic


Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.


It costs $4,000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on commodities market for only $32.

Plastic shopping bags are made from polyethelene, a themosplastic made from oil. Reducing plastic bags will decrease foreign oil dependency. China will save 32 million barrels of oil a year due to its ban on free plastic bags.

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags

Seattlites still use about 292 million plastic and 68 million paper disposable shopping bags per year.


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