Plastic bag ban the right call in Issaquah | Reporter’s Notebook

Reporter Josh Suman opines on the plastic bag ban in Issaquah.

Before coming to the Reporter nearly two years ago, I held a number of jobs in a variety of industries.

Desperation helped me acquire my first post-college job, while a background in sports landed gigs as a day-camp coach and staff member at a Boys and Girls Club. Eventually, I found myself in the less-than-thrilling world of grocery.

If nothing else, it provided an opportunity to overanalyze one of the most mundane activities we undertake.

Elderly folks often wanted bags loaded lighter, while others seemed intent on finding out just how much it could hold before the handles gave way. Both of those were much preferred over the dreaded reusable bag.

No customers were more particular than those who brought reusable bags. From the placement of each item to its exact weight in relation to the rest of the haul, those with reusable bags seemed in-tune with grocery minutia on an unhealthy level.

Beginning this week in Issaquah, they will become the norm.

The city’s bag ban, which was passed in 2012 and is the first of its kind on the Eastside, went into effect Monday and means businesses 7,500 square feet and larger can cut off the second option customers are so used to hearing at checkout time.

The choices are now to bring reusable bags, or pay a five cent fee for recyclable plastic bags.

And in a community as connected to the surrounding habitat and invested in the environment as Issaquah, it only makes sense.

Bringing reusable bags to the store is not even a minor inconvenience for shoppers and gives patrons a chance to play an active role in an important shift in community mindset.

Of course, most larger grocery stores have provided plastic bag recycling bins for years. But the utility of a plastic grocery bag is lost when the recycling practice requires remembering and then handling the bags a second time. Curbside recycling doesn’t include plastic bags, meaning more often than not, they end up in a bundle at the bottom of a garbage can, destined to find a home in a landfill.

Issaquah’s new ban obviously won’t eliminate plastic waste in the city, and will likely be seen as an inconvenience by many residents and others who work there.

But given the choice between toting a reusable bag to Safeway and Target or remaining stagnant while Seattle and other cities get on-board with a future that simply must require reducing plastic waste, the choice seems obvious.