It has been one month since Seattle passed the plastic bag ban. Just like any other reforms, the law has been undertaking ups and downs.

It has been one month since Seattle passed the plastic bag ban. Just like any other reforms, the law has been undertaking ups and downs.

Despite the massive amount of bags the city consumed annually, only 13 percent of the bags were recyclable. The rest would be thrown into Puget Sound in the past, poisoning fish and other sea animals, according to the City Council.  

“The ban is going to reduce the environmental impact and benefits our offspring in the long run,” said Rachel Johnson, a stay-home mom shopping at Safeway.

The law has prohibited retail stores in Seattle from distributing disposable plastic bags to consumers. Instead, it allows stores to sell reusable bags or paper bags. On one hand, consumers are encouraged to bring their own bags from home; on the other hand, they often seem to forget to do so.  

“It’s easier for the public to look at the environmental goals of a ban as long as there is no direct charge to them in most cases,” Dick Lilly, the business manager for waste prevention for the Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste Utility, told Puget Sound Business Journal.

Charging money for a paper bag has confused buyers who are used to getting it for free.

“Some customers don’t understand it, particularly those with language barrier and from different states,” said Allan Hamada, general manager at Uwajimaya, an Asian style store in International District. “In the beginning, the cashiers even got yelled at, because the customers were complaining that they had spent so much money in our store, but got charged for a bag in the end.

“In fact, we have to pay 11cents per bag where we only sell it for five cents. We are losing money on it. Therefore, hopefully more and more customers remember to bring their own bag in the future, so we can catch up the loss,” Hamada said.

“I think it’s a learning curve for businesses, and there needs to be outreach to the businesses in a variety of languages,” said Don Blakeney, Executive Director at Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA). For helping the law to implement better, Uwajimaya has already translated the plastic bag ban into different languages for customers coming from different countries.

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