Took my Trader Joe’s bag to Big Y to avoid paying for another bag – single use plastic bag ban went into effect Aug. 1, 2019.

Article & Photo by Jacqueline Bennett


Paper or plastic? As of August 1, 2019 consumers no longer have the option of choosing paper or plastic bags at retail stores in Connecticut. A new state law has gone into effect banning single use plastic bags at retail stores for environmental reasons.


Shoppers now must pay 10 cents for plastic bags, money that will go to the state coffers. As of 2021 single use plastic bags are slated to be banned completely. Most consumers are saying it is hard to oppose something that is good for the environment. Nevertheless, many say they did reuse the plastic bags for purposes such as lining waste paper baskets. As well, some folks question why retailers are now charging for paper bags.


For months consumers have been encouraged to purchase reusable bags and bring them along when shopping. Since the first of the month it has become commonplace to see bags from other stores being utilized. (For example, I brought my Trader Joe’s bag into Big Y. ) New England-based Big Y is now selling – once no cost paper bags – for a dime. However, their new paper bags include handles. Apparently, those handles cost the store 10 cents ?


According to NBC Connecticut, Highland Park Market in Manchester expects their bag costs to “quadritriple” without the plastic option because of the greater expense of paper bags. Highland Park, arguably a more upscale grocery experience, has had handle paper bags right along – just saying. At Stop & Shop, through August paper bags will be available at no charge.


Macy’s is also offering reusable bags in the large shopping bag style, with Macys,com featured prominently on each side. In fact, every reusable bag I’ve seen put out by retailers essentially is an advertisement for their store. So, consumers now get to pay for advertising on behalf of retailers ?


Some grocers are still letting cashiers give out small, tinted plastic bags used for cold items, like meats or ice cream. At self-checkouts, shoppers are on the honor system – at the end of a transaction a question pops up on the terminal screen asking how many plastic bags you have used. Zero has been my choice, in that in my purse I now carry a small reusable bag with me. Yep, my keys, wallet, lip gloss and a reusable bag ~ the perfect Pavlovian subject since the point of forcing reusable bags into our lives is to “shift consumer behavior.”


Not everyone is acclimating. A man in front of me at Walmart a couple days ago had a cart filled with groceries and not bag to seen. Rather he held up his receipt as he exited. A challenge for retailers will be to keep track of purchases if consumers take exception to paying for bags; and dealing with the frustration of watching shoppers shuffle about boldly with reusable bags that advertise for other stores.


The bottom line is ~ things change. In fact, change it has been said, is the only constant in life ~ you can bag that.