Farmer Henry Brockman says he doesn’t like the eco-implications of handing out plastic shopping bags to his customers at the farmers’ market in downtown Evanston every Saturday.

So he started charging them 25-cents for a set of four bags.

Guess what? While some customers got the message, others were outraged, sending him nastygrams and threatening to stop shopping at his stand.

It all made for a big story in the Chicago Tribune, which, in turn prompted blogger and sometimes Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne to tsk, tsk about the inconsistency of folks in politically correct Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. Walk the walk
    Here is an idea for the farmers’ market. The city should ban all plastic bags, set up a stand that sells “Evanston Farmers’ Market” Reusable bags, cards, baskets etc. and use the proceeds for some Evanston Green program.

    If there is one community that should not just talk the talk, but walk the walk it is Evanston.

    1. Agreed – Ban plastic bags
      I agree. Evanston should ban plastic bags. It’s ridiculous that stores like Dominick’s and Jewel are still pumping thousands of these things into our landfills every day. At least Whole Foods has finally caught on and no longer uses them.

      I don’t understand why Henry Brockman wouldn’t just provide paper bags for his customers at the farmers market? I realize that paper bags aren’t the best solution, but they are far better (and more reusable) than the plastic bags. If he is so inclined, he can charge customers whatever he wants for them too.

      1. I have a strong, compact,
        I have a strong, compact, reuseable string bag I bought from Ethical Planet on Davis Street, which I carry in my pocket and use every day for shopping of all sorts. Those would be ideal bags to sell at the market. And I believe they are woven in India, which gives Third World workers a leg up.
        On the other hand, I’m not sure that plastic grocery bags are always such a bad thing if you use them, as I do, to tie up trash in before placing in the dumpster. I would think leak-proof plastic bags would be preferable to leaky paper bags full of garbage when transferring waste from the outside dumpster to the waste hauler’s truck and on to the landfill. By reusing grocery bags as trash bags you save the cost, both dollars and resource-wise, of store-bought trash bags.
        As a fairly new Evanston resident I’m a bit mystified by the apparent lack of recycling available to me here. My condo building in Chicago had a room near the loading dock where I religiously sorted newspaper from steel cans, clear glass from brown. My Evanston apartment, with Flood Bros. as the trash hauler, doesn’t seem to have any provision for recycling–as I believe Evanston city-served residents do with the bin program. If I owned a car, which I don’t, I could drop off at the Recycling Center, but on foot or bicycle that really isn’t feasible for such a distance. I have a broken television, too big for SWANCC to pick up, which I don’t know what to do with, having no way to get it to the Abt Electronics dropoff. Taxi fare or car rentals to move recycled trash is financially out of the question. Very confusing place, this is.

        1. Recycling info on the City’s website
          Public Works – Recycling. I believe that condos and apartments without recycling service may be able to make arrangements with the City; call or email the Public Works department (contact info is on the linked page.)

          That being said, I think the 25 cent upcharge is eminently reasonable, especially since it’s probably just passing the cost of the bags on to the consumer; it’s not as though farmers are striking it rich at these markets!

          OTOH, banning bags strikes me as being extremist. While I bring an insulated bag with me (available cheaply at most grocery stores) I appreciate the plastic bags for separating plants and vegetables, or root veg and delicate berries. If I don’t need one, I don’t ask for it, and I wouldn’t mind the upcharge, especially from somewhere with such low cost margins. (In addition to being reusable, plastic bags don’t harbor bugs, unlike some paper ones.)

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      2. oh, the many uses for plastic bags
        I often wonder what people do without the bags from the grocery store. The paper ones we use to gather and cart out recycling and the plastic ones have so many uses. Picking up dog poop, in kid’s backpacks for wet swimsuits or “accidents”, carting nasty things to the alley garbage on the spot, the large ones (target) for the things going to goodwill, … I could go on and on. I guess if they were banned we’d just have to go out and BUY bags for these purposes (no, I’m not going to walk my dog with a giant pooper-scooper!).

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