It looks like the BYOB trend is really taking over! Thanks to a new ordinance, the people of Tacoma, Washington will be bringing their own bags to the stores instead of using the unsustainable system of single-use plastic bags. The Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance, passed by the Tacoma City Council, is going into effect on July 12, 2017.

The change is simple – retail stores will no longer have plastic bags available at checkout. Instead, customers will have to use their own reusable bags that they bring from home, or buy a paper bag from the store. The recycled paper and reusable bags will be sold for the minimum pass-through charge of five cents each and will be free of charge for those with EBT, WIC, and TANF benefits. The new law affects all retail businesses in the city of Tacoma – that includes grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, and all others. Included in the legislation are also temporary retailers and vendors at farmers markets and festivals.

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Unfortunately, produce bags, dry cleaning bags, prepared food takeout bags, and pharmacy prescription bags will still be available at no charge in Tacoma’s stores, instead of providing the customer with a sustainable and more green option – but we hope that this use of plastic bags will be at the core of the next anti-plastic initiative in establishments that continue to use them.

By implementing plastic bag bans, Tacoma joins over a dozen other cities in the state of Washington, including Seattle, Olympia, Bellingham, San Juan County, and Thurston County.

So why is this such great news? Well, plastic bags don’t biodegrade. Instead, once they’re tossed away, they are left to slowly start to break down (which can take thousands of years), turning into hundreds of small bits of plastic that release dangerous chemicals and pose a serious threat to marine animals. Every single year, we use as much as 100 billion plastic bags and most of them end up polluting the planet and harming or killing countless animals. By implementing plastic bans of every kind, we can help slow the flood of plastic into the oceans (every year 8.8 million tons are dumped into the waters). Luckily, we don’t have to wait for a ban to be put in place in our cities to get started. To learn how to limit the use of plastics in your household, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: Hans/Pixabay