Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Plastic bags: Going green or going for the green?

Environment, Follow the money, Going Green

Menards bag sale


Paper or plastic?

A Senate committee Wednesday night voted 4-3 for a bill that would ban plastic bags in large retail stores within three years.

Critics complained that the bill would drive consumers to paper bags, which cause their own set of environmental problems. But supporters said the idea was to get customers to use some sort of reusable bag.

"I can remember my grandmother taking her cloth bags to the grocery store," said Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton. "It wasn't called recycling. It was called economics."

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, of Broomfield, joined the other two Republicans on the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee in voting against Senate Bill 156.

"Stores are already going in the direction of reusable bags," he said afterward, "but no, government has to ride to the rescue."

The bag ban was the brainchild of a teacher and a group of students at Kent Denver School, who approached lawmakers with their idea. Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Joe Miklosi, both Denver Democrats, agreed to sponsor the measure.

Veiga announced at the outset of the hearing Wednesday that she was stripping the most controversial provision in the bill: a 6-cent charge on every plastic bag provided by retailers at checkout.

She said retailers opposed it but, more importantly, so did shoppers.

Veiga applauded the efforts of plastic bag recyclers but said the effort hasn't been enough to reduce the problems with bags.

"I don't believe we will see a lot of progress until we move in a dramatic direction," she said.

Mary Lou Chapman, president of the Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association, questioned why the bill only pertained to retail stores over 10,000 square feet.

"If my plastic bag is bad, why is yours not bad?" she asked.

Lobbyist Chris Howes, who represents the Colorado Retail Council, also questioned why larger stores were singled out.

"When I was growing up in the '70s, paper was the thing to get away from because we were cutting down too many trees," he said. "And then we moved to the plastic. There's some irony that we're back here again."

Kent teacher Paul Gilden and his students sat through the 21/2-hour hearing. Four students testified on behalf of the measure.

"By passing this bill, we will show the country and the world that Colorado is at the forefront of progressive environmental policies," said junior J.J. Schpall.

"We can survive without plastic bags. We cannot leave this matter to others. We are, and must be, the solution."

Also championing the bill was David Allen, of Telluride, who said that 26 mountain towns in the West are collaborating on a voluntary initiative to reduce consumption of plastic disposable shopping bags.



Pros and cons

A bill that would ban plastic bags over a three-year period was heard in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon. Here's what foes and fans of plastic bags say:


* Global consumption of plastic bags is approximately 5 trillion annually.

* 12 million barrels of oil are required to manufacture 100 billion plastic grocery bags.

* The average family accumulates 50 plastic bags in four trips to the grocery store.

* It costs $4,000 to recycle 1 ton of plastic bags.

* Ninety percent of all grocery bags are plastic.

* Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

* Millions of fish, seabirds and mammals die each year because of plastic bags.


* Plastic bags require 40 percent to 70 percent less energy to make than paper bags.

* For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same number of plastic bags.

* It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than a pound of paper.

* The manufacture and use of paper bags generates 70 percent more air emissions than plastic.

* Making plastic bags requires less than 4 percent of the water needed to make paper bags.

* Plastic bags are fully recyclable and can be made into dozens of products, including fencing, decking and new bags.

Going bag-free

Colorado-based Vitamin Cottage has long banned plastic bags in its stores and by Earth Day of this year, all of its 29 stores will be bag-free.

Starting in April, customers at all the stores in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Utah will have to bring their own reusable bags or take their groceries home in recycled boxes.

"It's all been very positively received," said Heather Isely, executive vice president for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.

"Grocery bags in general are a huge burden on the environment."

Even though the proposed legislation would not affect Vitamin Cottage, Isely supports it.

"We tried incentives. Unfortunately that didn't work. It seems like people respond to the negative. Imposing a bag tax (in Ireland and elsewhere) has produced significant results."

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