Chicagoans will soon no longer be asked if they want paper or plastic. The City Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a partial plastic bag ban this past April. The proposal was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and passed with a vote of 36-10.

The new ordinance will first go in effect in August 2015, for chain retailers who own three or more locations, or stores of more than 10,000 square feet. Those large retailers will need to start complying by August 2015. Smaller stores will need to follow a suit a year later.

Fines run between $300 and $500 each time the ordinance is violated.

bagging groceries

Alderman Leslie Hairston opposed and voted against the ordinance because she was concerned about how the additional costs associated with providing paper bags, which cost three times the amount of plastic, may impact her efforts to attract a new grocery store tenant for any empty space in her South Side district, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Grocers are already reluctant to come to my community, and we’re gonna give them more reason by banning plastic bags,” says Hairston.

Supporters of the ban claimed that 3.7 million plastic bags are used citywide on a daily basis, and an estimated 3 to 5 percent of all of those bags become litter.

The city of Chicago is not the first to start the movement of banning plastic bags. Hawaii was the first state in the United States to ban plastic bags. Countries like Bangladesh and Ireland have banned plastic bags while nations like Ireland have imposed a tax. There is no doubt that all of these measures are a step in the right direction, but unfortunately, our planet is far from a plastic-free environment. And there are several reasons, from an environmental standpoint, why lawmakers and citizens should start taking the dangers of plastic bags seriously.

plastic bag waste

First and foremost, most plastic bags are not biodegradable and end up in landfills or worse, floating around in the environment. It takes hundreds of years for plastic bags to decompose and while they do, they release toxins into our soil, lakes, rivers and oceans. Secondly, littered plastic bags are a threat to animals. David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, told National Geographic stray bags choke and strangle wildlife around the world. Lastly, the production of plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum and banning the production would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A lot of people think that paper bags are a good alternative to plastic bags but they’re not. They are actually really energy intensive and unless they are made from recycled paper products, they are cutting down trees as well.

The only real option is go with a reusable bag. The so called, “Eco bag,” is nothing special other than it is usually ethically made and reusable.

reusable bag

Here at Budget Dumpster, we support the idea of a plastic-free environment. We are an eco-friendly company and try our best to enforce green habits with our workers and customers. If you need help with a waste removal project, check out our dumpster rentals in Chicago.