An Evanston alderman who wants to tax plastic bags moved to send the idea off to an advisory committee for further study Monday after it became obvious the current version of the proposal was unlikely to win City Council approval.

An Evanston alderman who wants to tax plastic bags moved to send the idea off to an advisory committee for further study Monday after it became obvious the current version of the proposal was unlikely to win City Council approval.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, made the move after lashing out at a member of the public who disagreed with her interpretation of the scientific evidence regarding the environmental impact of disposable bags.

Jeanne Lindwall, of 625 Library Place, said disposable carryout bags may be the greenest choice, in terms of what it costs to produce the product, and added that there appears to be a significant market for recycled plastic, which would keep the bags out of landfills.

Burrus in response challenged the validity of Lindwall’s remarks and called her comments “a disservice to the community.”

Burrus demanded that Lindwall provide evidence to back up her claims, to which Lindwall responded that she had already provided city staff with a copy of a report on which she based her remarks.

Burrus stressed that her proposal for a tax was different from the bag ban that Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, had offered as an amendment to the proposed ordinance.

The Administration and Public Works Committee agreed to send the idea to the city’s Environment Board and directed the city’s Sustainability Coordinator, Catherine Hurley, to work with the board to bring a revised proposal back to the City Council in October.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she thinks there’s a real interest in the community in curbing the use of single-use plastic bags, but said the question is whether the best approach is whether to do it by legislation, educational efforts or both.

She said the Environment Board was a good place to work out that issue.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Just take a bag with you…. how hard is it really?

    My family and I take our Whole Foods re-usable bags to Food 4 Less all the time.  They are so much easier to pack and can hold so much more comfortably.  Personally, I like that I can carry several on my shoulder instead of pinching off the blood supply from my fingers.  Why this incessant need to keep plastic bags that we all know are horrible for the environment and cost the stores where we shop millions every year to supply to us?  Take a bag, save the store some cash, have lower prices at the checkout.  Seriously people, not everything has to be a fight – this is just common sense.  Even if you aren't on the side of the environmentalists, you should be on your own side – you know, where you save yourself some hard-earned cash through lower prices?  How many people shop at Aldi, Sam's Club, Costco?  These are stores we all know we shop at specifically to save some $$$ and they don't give us bags, or if they do, you get charged for it.

    For those of you that are in such dire need of a plastic bag, please drop by the neighbor's house where you can lay claim to the one that has been nesting in his Maple Tree for the past four years.

    1. Bag Ban

      I choose not to have a car (which is WAY more "green" than reusable bags), and walk/take the L everywhere. Since I cannot reasonably keep a reusable bag on my person at all times, I occasionally need a plastic bag when at Jewel, Walgreens or Whole Foods. Not being able to get one from these stores would result in me not making a purchase, causing both the store and city (taxes) money and me convenience. I don't know why people keep trying to push this ban. The exchange is between two willing parties…..please stop meddling in other's business

    2. Bags

      Most people agree its not hard to carry reusable bags.  We also agree that the government needs to remain  hand- off.  If reusable is where its at, then the free market will sort itself out and plastic will soon be a thing of the past.  We don't need anyone in the city council trying to force our hand or telling us what kind of bag's we can and cannot use.  They are supposed to lead, guide, and grow this city, according to the needs of the constituents.  They are not elected to dictate their personal agendas to us.

      And for the record, I use reusable shopping bags.

  2. Plastic bags

    I guess I feel I need my aldermen to focus on things like taxes, economic development, public safety, and pensions.  I feel fully capable of understanding and acting on the importance of avoiding plastic bags at the grocery store and don't need my aldermen to spend time on it.

  3. Hate carrying bags

    Maybe I am an evil non-green person, but if I am spending a ridiculous amount of money for groceries at Whole Paycheck, then I am not asking too much for them to give me a freaking bag or two. I think it is stupid we are wasting our time talking about this nonsense. No bag tax. If you want to be a green person, carry your own bag to the store. Quit harassing us who don't like carrying stupid bags around. So, to answer your question. Yes, it is asking too much. I do not want to nor do I like carrying around bags.

  4. A plastic bag on my doorstep from the city

    Did anyone else happen to get an Evanston brochure hanging on their doorknob today in a plastic bag?  I nearly fell off my front porch laughing at how ironic this is.  Mayor Tisdahl's face was smiling back at me from the first page.

     Also,  the chicago tribune just did a segment about how the Chicago Department of Public Health may put limits on  using recycled items to carry-out food items, since it may cause cross-contamination.


    I say, why not place recycling bins next to all the public waste bins as a first step.   Educate people about recycling, and then let people choose for themselves.  


    1. AT&T Dex Phonebooks

      What about all the phone books in plastic bags–one big and one small per bag.  My building got them last week and then yesterday another load of the same phone books again in plastic bags and more books then we even have units.

      Fortunately I recycle the bags but I find very few unit ever take the phone books and so they eventually just go into the recycle bins.

      Big waste.

  5. Paving the way for the next election

    Don't think this is anything more by Burrus than to mirror the agenda of her future political opponents. she is laying the ground work for the next election by posturing as green. it is hard being green without the sincerity to back.

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