In just a few days time, Maui County will become the first in the State of Hawaii to initiate a county wide ban on plastic bags at retail checkouts and public events. While there has been some discussion over what is and what is not allowed after the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance is fully approved (which is expected to take place around the end of January,) the current rules for compliance state that any plastic bag defined as “single use” will no longer be allowed for distribution anywhere in Maui County; including not just our Maui home, but the islands of Molokai and Lanai as well. If you are wondering how this will affects those of us who live and vacation in our wonderful Kapalua homes and West Maui condos, you are not alone.
As of January 11th, 2011, businesses will no longer be giving out “single use” plastic bags at checkout stands across Maui county. What has been defined by the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance as “single use” is any plastic bag less than 3 mils thick, which is supplied to customers at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting good such as groceries, clothing, periodicals, and virtually any other item which would have been placed in a plastic bag at check out prior to this ordinance. So, whether you are shopping at a local mom and pop shop, a big box retailer, a department store, or even taking home leftovers from your favorite Pacific Rim restaurant, you will no longer be able to receive a plastic bag to carry out your items. However, there is an exception to the rule: if a plastic bag is provided not at the point of sale, and for the purpose of transporting loose goods, protecting items, or to prevent cross contamination, such bags will still be permissible for use and distribution. This means those thin see-through plastic bags used to hold fruits, meats, as well as protective coverings such as those used by dry cleaners, will still be available for use by their respective establishments.
Now that we know the basics of what types of bags may and may not be provided to us after January 11th, we now need to look for alternative methods of transporting our purchased goods from store to home.
While some retailers will be providing paper bags to customers at checkout, no retailer is required to do so. As such, it would be a good idea to keep a few re-usable shopping bags (those large and thick plastic/cloth bags available at most grocery stores for a dollar or two) in your car so that you are never without a bag to carry your planned, or spur of the moment, purchases in. You may also want to consider keeping handy a few insulated cooler bags for transporting meats or frozen goods, and a box or two in your trunk to keep your purchases secure on the ride home.
While no longer having plastic bags readily available may be a slight inconvenience to some, the benefits to our home on Maui have the potential to be quite immense: A reduction and eventual complete removal of new plastic shopping bags being introduced to our island home will mean less landfill filling waste, less eyesore inducing litter blighting our paradisaical landscape, and the saving of many a bird, marine, and other wildlife whose lives are at risk when plastic bags are introduced into their habitat.
A cleaner, refreshed, and all around more beautiful Maui home; that is something we all can get behind.