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It’s official. The ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ bill was signed into Baltimore County law on Friday, effective November 1st. Plastic bags will be banned at checkout and citizens are encouraged to bring their own bags when shopping. Paper bags will be available for 5-cents.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski sat with community leaders, bill sponsors, and environmental advocates to sign the bill. City Council passed it last week in a bi-partisan effort (which is always good to see – teamwork) to protect the environment and clean up the community. “I was talking to my new friend coming in, and was made aware that in his many travels doing community cleanups, just in one day in the span of 100 yards, it was 205 individual single-use plastic bags that were picked up,” Olszewski said.

Baltimore County Councilman Izzy Patoka (D-District 2) added, “I think plastic bags have been a menace to our environment and we all have to think about not our generation, but the generations that will follow us.

Behind the Bill

The bill went through some changes on its way to “Johnny O’s” desk. Probably to make the adjustment period easier for residents.

It initially carried a 10-cent bag fee for purchasing paper bags however, lawmakers thought it best to only charge a nickel. The county is also offering a 90-day grace period (once the law goes into effect on Nov. 1). The county’s farmers markets are exempt. Smaller retail stores or “mom and pop” establishments are not required to honor the ban if they have fewer than 4 locations. Officials will work with residents and businesses to provide them with reusable bags before the law takes effect.

I’ve Been Through It – Annoying but Cool

We’ve been dealing with the plastic bag ban in the city (Baltimore City) for a few years. Ours began in 2021. It was a change that was initially tough to adjust to, but it got better. The only annoying thing is the transition period of realizing that you forgot your bags at home (and are subject to the handle-less paper bags).

Like everything else, it gets better over time. We got in the habit of keeping bags in the car or at least being prepared for the paper options. Experts say it’s worth the hassle. “Plastic bag bans offer another push away from the reliance on fossil fuels. It keeps the bags out of the rivers, oceans, and landfills. Bans also help keep microplastics out of humans,” Bradford Arick writes for Roadrunner. 

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