Want a Bloom bag? Pick one up for free while they last at the Bloom office, 414 W. 6th St. Photo by Erin Stephenson

Want a Bloom bag? Pick one up for free while they last at the Bloom office, 414 W. 6th St. Photo by Erin Stephenson

BY CAIRRIL MILLS

In many places throughout the world, going shopping means taking along a bag or basket to bring purchases home. If a Center for Sustainable Living campaign is successful, Bloomington will soon be one of those places.

Bring Your Bag Bloomington (BYBB) is a center initiative that seeks to eliminate single-use plastic bags from the community. BYBB is working with the City of Bloomington to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in the course of three years. Bags for loose foods, bulk, prepackaged meats, and wet foods are exempt, as are plastic bags more than 2.25 mils thick. Shoppers who don’t bring their own bags or baskets will be charged 15 cents per paper bag, with the store pocketing any profit beyond the cost of the bag.

“Sixteen million plastic bags are distributed in Bloomington every year,” says Jeanne Leimkuhler, co-facilitator of BYBB. According to a report on CNN, plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes before being discarded, but they remain in the environment for hundreds of years. Animals often mistake the bags for food or become entangled in them and die. “We have been reaching out to cities of similar size as Bloomington to learn how they enacted their bans,” says Leimkuhler.

“We are also researching community outreach so we can get free reusable bags distributed to low-income residents and the elderly.” While the BYBB committee has discussed the proposed ordinance with area stores such as Kroger, Marsh, and CVS, it will be up to the city to determine how the ban will be enforced.

Leimkuhler has spoken at length with representatives in Santa Barbara, California, about its ban. According to a Santa Barbara spokesperson, most residents carry reusable bags in their cars so they always have them on hand.

“When they go outside the community and stores try to give them bags, they feel shocked and don’t want to take them; they feel that it’s not right,” says Leimkuhler. “That tells us it’s a logical behavior change. Bloomington’s totally ready for this. Its time has come.”

For more information, visit bringyourbagbloomington.org.