Amy Roberts: Bravo for bag ban | ParkRecord.com

Amy Roberts: Bravo for bag ban

Red Card Roberts

By Amy Roberts
Park Record columnist 

I often write tucked away inconspicuously at a local coffee shop. I'm not sure why. I have an office both at home and work. But for some reason, the words for this column, freelance magazine articles, or a speech for my boss, all seem to flow easier when set to the white noise of a bean grinder.

And if there's one thing my preferred typing location has taught me, it's this: People will complain about anything.

Every so often I have a deadline that coincides with Coffee with the Council — an informal monthly meeting where residents can get together with city council members and discuss issues.

While I applaud the city's efforts to interact with the community, I would insist these meetings be held at a bar if I were an elected official in this town. Some of the things people complain about could drive a strict teetotaler to drink.

Sometimes these sessions are like the caffeinated version of someone calling 911 because the pizza delivery guy forgot his or her breadsticks.

During my writing/eavesdropping sessions, I've heard people ask a council member to intervene in a lawn-mowing dispute with their neighbor. There's been a lot of talk about dog poop, often times with photographic evidence. Recently, someone was upset and demanded to be reimbursed for a car wash because he parked near where the city was flushing water lines and now there were water spots on his once-clean vehicle.

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Sometimes these sessions are like the caffeinated version of someone calling 911 because the pizza delivery guy forgot his or her breadsticks.

While council members always seem respectful and diplomatic, I have to wonder if they ever leave those meetings thinking, "Did I really run for office to look at pictures of dog poop?"

It's kind of a thankless job. So, from my corner table at a local coffee shop, I want to take a moment to thank the council for its recent ban on single-use plastic bags. Bravo.

Right now, the ban is limited to large stores within the city limits; criteria that makes it applicable to only three grocery stores, one of which I shop at almost exclusively.

I still call it Dan's, and I hope this store, and the others effected, embrace this initiative and consider upping the ante.

Right now, my sense is they're kind of lukewarm to the idea, assuming this puts them at a competitive disadvantage. I disagree. For starters, I don't think most people check out the local bag scene prior to selecting their grocery store. And, Park City tends to pride itself in being a very blue dot in a very red state. Many us of seek out progressive and eco-friendly businesses and make an effort to support them. As for the concern about unknowing tourists being left holding the bag to bring a bag, that's not really a concern at all.

I've vacationed in a number of cities with a similar ban, and most times my lodging rental provides reusable bags. Even in places plastic bags are allowed, a homeowner, property manager or concierge will encourage a renter to take a reusable bag to the store. It's one line in an informational rental packet; not a huge learning curve.

If I oversaw the marketing for any of the impacted stores, I'd be buying cloth bags with the store logo on them and giving them to every hotel manager in town to place in rooms.

I hope these stores get creative with this change and use it to their advantage, instead of just buying more paper bags and passing on the cost. The goal is to be more environmentally friendly, not secure a spot on the logging industry's Christmas card list.

Contrary to what many people assume, single-use plastic bags tossed in the curbside recycling bin end up in the dump. Standard recycling equipment can't process them. Eliminating them is a good start. But certainly more can be done.

There's a new trend towards zero-waste groceries stores, where customers bring their own reusable containers and measure out just the right amount of food and drink. They're charged by the ounce for everything from milk and cereal to soda and shampoo. This approach not only cuts down on plastic packaging, it also helps to eliminate food waste since customers buy only what they need.

I'd love to see something like this come to Park City. Perhaps I'll mention it to a council member over a cup of coffee.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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