Washington likes to talk big game when it comes to being a “green” or eco-friendly state. We certainly do our part but we are also far from perfect. And in a move similar to banning plastic straws, Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban will indeed go into effect this year starting on October 1st. Now, there are a few things that you should know and also keep in mind about this ban.

To start, here’s what you should know. The ban applies to carry-out bags found at restaurants, retailers, vendors, and grocery stores. But some single-use plastic bags will still be allowed, including bags for meats, produce, prescription bags, and newspaper or dry-cleaning bags.

Now, why are single-use plastic bags going away? Simple, plastic is bad for the environment, it releases toxins and it’s hard to recycle single-use plastic bags making them a pollutant. Keep in mind that if you rely on single-use bags you will still be able to get compliant plastic bags or paper bags at certain retailers. But you will be charged $0.08 cents a bag as per state regulations. However, if you are at a food bank/pantry or are receiving food stamps or other government assistance you will not be charged the fee.

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Here’s what you should keep in mind, banning plastic bags won’t save the environment but it does help. This might shock you but only 9% of the world’s plastic actually gets recycled as the recycling industry has largely collapsed due to contamination. To put it nicely, Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

We know it sounds pretty doomed but at the end of the day, the best thing that you can do is limit your overall consumption. Buy without packaging when you can and buy mindfully. Always ask yourself, do I need this, or do I want it? It’s not always the easiest question to ask yourself but we can each do a small part in making a difference.

If you’d like to learn more about Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban you can click here.