Your Green Life: Bag It, Duluth aiming to reduce plastic bags across city

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DULUTH, MN– Bring your own bag, that’s a motto that many businesses are looking to adopt in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic and paper bags used in the community.

Statistics show, every year over 20 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes. The average Duluth grocery store gives out approximately 1.5 million single-use bags per year.

Bag It, Duluth is a group that’s working to address the impacts of single-use bags, straws, and take out containers. That group hoping the city of Duluth will make the use of these items a bit less accessible.

Plastic bags are common among shoppers as they carry out their purchases,  but where do those bags end up when they are no longer needed?

Jamie Harvie with Bag It, Duluth says, “they go right into the landfill or they bounce around our street or they end up in our lake, but ultimately, they’re just thrown away.”

A diverse group of Duluth citizens, businesses and organizations have come together to promote zero waste strategies with a campaign called Bag It, Duluth.

“We have about 100 organizations, so that’s businesses, congregations, school groups, and so forth that have added their name as supporters of this campaign,” Harvie says.

The group formed about two years ago and has been asking for the Duluth City Council to change the way single-use bags are used.

“We’re advocating for a nominal charge to put on single-use bags, the carry-out bags, the ones you get at the counter,” says Harvie.

Harvie says education can only go so far and it’s about changing a social and cultural mindset. “We have about 600 names of individuals who are saying they want city council to pass this ordinance and that they would support businesses as they voluntarily move it forward.”

And several businesses across the city have done just that.  Savers in Duluth no longer offer plastic bags instead, at check out they ask if you would like to purchase a 99 cent reusable bag or pay 10 cents for a recyclable paper bag.

All in an effort to prevent these bags from landing somewhere they shouldn’t.  Harvie says, “what we’re finding now is that we have plastic in our beer, we have plastic in our fish, we have plastic in our water.”

Harvie says reducing plastic use would save future generations.  “We think Duluth is ready. We think Duluth is ready for change.”

Along with the bag fee, the campaign is also asking the council to make plastic straws available only when asked… and to phase out the use of Styrofoam take-out containers.

For more information on the campaign click here.

Jessie Slater

Jessie Slater

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