Today is last day before start of plastic bag ban on Bainbridge

The age of the plastic bag will soon meet its end.

On Bainbridge Island at least.

City officials have been hard at work educating the public about the plastic bag ban will go into effect Thursday, Nov. 1.

"It is really gratifying to do something like this," said Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos, who led the Bainbridge council in getting the ban passed. "We didn't have to do it, but we did it because it's a reflection of the community's values."

After Oct. 31, all plastic bags commonly used at checkout stands at retail locations will no longer be offered. Instead, reusable bags will be encouraged, while paper bags will be available for a 5-cent fee.

Under the ban, single-use plastic carry out bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters thick will be prohibited.

Not all plastic bags will be banished from the island, however. Plastic bags commonly used for take out food, newspaper covers, dry cleaning or for bulk foods at the grocery store will still be allowed.

In the lead up to the ban the city has been briefing local businesses on the plastic-free move.

"They seem to be coming along nicely," said Meghan McKnight, code enforcement officer for Bainbridge Island. "We've sent out notifications to island businesses including a flier and an information sheet for them."

"I've been wandering around to businesses to try and make sure any questions they have are addressed in advance," she added.

McKnight noted that leftover plastic bags can be donated to the Helpline House, a local island charity.

The city also conducted a reusable shopping bag design contest to raise community awareness of the ban. The winning design will be produced on 500 reusable bags and handed out for free at the Halloween celebration in downtown Winslow on Oct. 31. The bags will also be available at the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, the library and city hall.

After the bags run out, shops can order more to sell through Paper Products on Winslow Way.

"We've purchased them through Paper Products and we are encouraging businesses to get more," McKnight said.

When the city council approved the plastic bag ban in April, Bainbridge Island became the first city in Kitsap County, and the fifth in Washington state to pass such an ordinance.

Local grocery stores have been gearing up for the ban.

At the Safeway on High School Road, notices placed on the checkout stands remind shoppers of the upcoming ban. Monday evening, the area behind some of the check stands were piled high with cardboard boxes filled with reusable shopping bags that the grocery store will sell to customers.


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