Aspen Installs Reusable Bag Banks
According the Aspen Daily News, both grocery stores in the community have reported that the transition has been smooth since the plastic bag ban went into effect on May 1. In fact, in the very first month, 80 to 90 percent of shoppers were bringing their own reusable bags to the store and about 10,000 paper bags were sold between both grocery stores. With local residents more or less dialed in on the ban, the environmental health department is waiting to see how tourists will deal with the bag ban during the summer season.
In an effort to better equip the community for on-the-go shopping, and prepare for the touristy summer season, Aspen has begun a City program to install reusable bag banks throughout the town. These reusable “bag banks” are metal baskets that hold reusable shopping bags, so anyone passing by can leave unwanted reusable bags and any shopper in need can pick one up. According to Ashley Cantrell, city environmental health specialist, the environmental health department has filled the bag banks with about 10 to 15 reusable bags and the department will refill these metal baskets periodically.
The bag banks are located at the Aspen Recreation Center, Jean Robert’s Gym, and City Hall. Two other retailers, The Grog and Aspen Wine and Spirits, both of which are next to a grocery store, are also bag bank sites. The library may become another location, as the City is attempting to place an additional bag bank there.
Some have expressed concern over sharing bags. However, according to Ashley Cantrell, the main idea behind the bag bank is that people will take the bag home and wash it before they go to the grocery store. In addition, she added that plastic and paper bags are not allowed in the bag banks. “The bag banks are not a receptacle for just any bags that you want to get rid of,” Cantrell said. Lastly, she went on to say that this program is meant for those who have more reusable bags than they need or for those shoppers who find themselves in need of one.
In an effort to assist the grocery stores even more, the City has given about 45 reusable shopping bags to each grocery store in the event a customer refuses to purchase paper or reusable bags.