Remember that scene in Home Alone where Kevin McCallister (MaCauley Culkin) is walking down the sidewalk with a handful of groceries and the bags break?

If not, check it out on YouTube.

Pretty funny, and extremely unfortunate, huh?

If only eight-year-old Kevin had a sturdier bag, then his bag of toy soldiers “for the kids” never would have fallen to the ground.

That’s what Chicago – ironically where the movie takes place – is trying to prevent with its plastic bag ban. But more importantly than trying to provide a sturdier bag, stores will be offering reusable plastic bags that, unlike thin plastic bags, are environmentally friendly. The new bags won’t clutter landfills as well as litter parks, streets and waterways.

Plastic bag litter

Last year the City Council voted 36-10 in favor of the reusable plastic bags, which are thicker than the thin plastic bags. These new bags are also equipped with handles and can carry at least 22 pounds for at least 125 uses.

The ban is set to take effect Aug. 1 for large retailers and the following year for shops smaller than 10,000 square feet. Family-owned stores and restaurants will not be affected by the ban.

Some aren’t waiting for the Aug. 1 deadline, however. Walmart has already begun testing the new reusable plastic bags at two of its Chicago stores and is planning to expand to 12 other locations in the city by the end of this month.

Reusable bags

At the checkout line at Target, shoppers will be given reusable plastic bags at no charge. In its effort to promote reuse, Target will continue giving a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag shoppers use at the store, something it has done since 2009.

Shoppers at Jewel-Osco, a supermarket chain headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, will have the option of either paper or a new reusable plastic bag at no extra cost. The paper bags are a bit smaller than the reusable plastic bags that are available for purchase for 10 cents.

Reusable cloth bags are also sold at Walmart, Target and Jewel-Osco at varying prices.

Chicago isn’t the only place that is imposing a plastic bag ban. In fact, Chicago is just one of more than 200 cities in the country with a plastic bag law.

In 2007, San Francisco became the first major U.S city to ban plastic bags. In August 2014, California became the first state legislature to enforce a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. The law was set to take effect July 1, but last February the California secretary of state announced that those against the proposed law had secured enough signatures to put the plastic bag ban to a vote in November of this year.

Other major cities with a plastic bag ban include Austin, Portland, and Seattle.

Map

Some people endorse the banning of plastic bags, saying that it’s in the best interests of the economy and environment. Along with that, an estimated 3.7 million plastic bags are used citywide daily and between three and five percent of them become litter. These bags get stuck in drains and cause flooding, not to mention clog landfills and recycling machinery.

Plastic bags

Others, however, are against the banning of plastic bags, such as Jordan Parker, founder and director of Bring Your Bag Chicago, an environmental group that opposed the city’s legislation and pushed for a law that would have imposed a fee each time a shopper opted for a reusable bag. In a recent article published by the Chicago Tribune, Parker said a fee is meant to “turn on a lightbulb” in consumers’ minds so that they are reminded of the waste they are producing.

One of the reasons Parker opposes the reusable bags, the article states, is the fact that it will be a challenge to get people to bring bags back to the store each time. Parker goes on to say that the reusable bags act just like plastic if they escape out into the environment and require more energy and water to create.