Plastic bags in Haines
April 19, 2018
Plastic bags have a bad rap and Haines is taking strides to reduce their use.
Haines Friends of Recycling’s zero-waste themed Earth Week has renewed talks about how to cut back on single-use plastics.
Lynn Canal Conservation board member Heidi Robichaud said the nonprofit has been working to encourage the use of reusable bags in local stores as part of its “Borrow a Bag” program.
LCC launched the program in 2016 when “bag lady” stands, made of recycled bicycle handles, were placed near the front doors at the library, Mountain Market, Howser’s IGA and Oleruds. About 75 cloth bags were printed with LCC and Borrow a Bag logos and put on the stands with the intention that shoppers would use them and return them and other reusable bags.
“Store owners say as soon as bags are there, they’re gone and don’t come back,” Robichaud said. “The program needs support, it needs buy-in from the community.”
A discussion on plastic bags has not been introduced to local committees or the Haines Borough Assembly, but Howser’s IGA took a step forward about seven years ago by switching to paper bags, IGA staff said.
Robichaud said 17 communities in Alaska have banned single-use plastic bags, including Wasilla, Cordova, Bethel, Hooper Bay and other small villages. The governments in Palmer, Denali and Unalaska are considering a ban.
According to the Earth Policy Institute, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. The bags contribute significantly to pollution in the ocean and can kill marine life and birds if ingested. Plastic bags also are easily blown by the wind and can get caught around animals’ necks.
Robichaud said using reusable bags is an easy switch. “Person by person this is something you can easily do, but it needs to become habit.”
Anchorage representative Andy Josephson introduced a bill in the Alaska legislature this year to impose a statewide 20-cent tax on plastic bags. Legislative aid Lisa Delaney said the bill was later changed to be a statewide ban on plastic bags. She said she doesn’t think the bill will reach the floor for a vote due to time constraints.
LCC will host a table at the Earth Day Fair on April 21 at the senior center with more information on efforts to cut out plastic bags.