Woodstock giving residents reusable grocery bags in eco-friendly campaign

City will distribute reusable bags as part of environmental initiative

Published: Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 12:45 a.m. CDT

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(Sarah Nader)

WOODSTOCK – The city wants to make it easier for Woodstock residents to opt for cloth over paper or plastic.

The city will buy 15,000 customized reusable grocery bags and distribute them to residents in an effort to reduce plastic waste. Woodstock’s Environmental and Culture and Social Awareness commissions are leading the initiative. The bags are expected in November and the commissions also are working on marketing strategy, community education and a website dedicated to the initiative and local sponsors.

About 9,000 of the bags will go to Woodstock homes and the rest will be available to buy at City Hall and potentially partnering stores, said Laura Crain, chairwoman of the joint commissions.

The project doesn’t have any definite sponsors yet, but there has been interest in the program, she said.

“It’s not just our main, big box retailers but small businesses that are very interested in the option,” she said. “It can actually be cost saving for retailers when customers use reusable bags. … I don’t think the community will ever get to 100 percent plastic free, but we want to see it reduced and the impact on community diminished.”

The McHenry County Board in July declared August “Bring Your Own Bag” month. That campaign is headed up by an advocacy group with the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. The group is working with Woodstock and has prompted similar initiatives in Crystal Lake, Cary and Algonquin, among others.

“Of course, the bring your own bag proclamation should be the beginning of changing behavior,” said Cynthia Kanner, with the defenders.

The group is working to draft an ordinance that would have retailers charge customers for paper and plastic bags, similar to Aldi stores, she said. The group would ask different towns in McHenry County to consider the idea.

“Charging has been proven to be a good deterrent,” she said. “And people are beginning to realize that some stores will give you 5 cents off if you bring your own bag. I definitely see more people bringing their own bags, but there are still way too many shopping carts coming out of the stores with tons of plastic.”

 

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