Save Our Earth--Bring Your Own Bags

 Supriya07/Shutterstock

Supriya07/Shutterstock

By Judy Klem

Area Retailers will give away free reusable bags to customers on Saturday, Jan. 6

Beginning Jan. 1, Oak Park shoppers in many of the larger retail stores will be charged 10 cents for every single-use bag the store provides to carry home their purchases. The new local law, which applies to retail stores of 5,000 or more square feet, is intended to reduce the negative impact single-use bags have on the environment.

The fee applies to paper as well as plastic, officials say, because paper bags consume enormous amounts of natural resources to manufacture and create their own type of environmental issues when not disposed of properly.

There’s a great way to avoid these fees: Bring your own reusable bags when you shop. Did you know as many as 50 percent of Oak Park residents already rely on reusable bags? “It takes a bit of practice, but hanging your reusable bags on the door knob will help you remember to take them along,” suggests Marirose Ferrara of St. Giles Catholic Church and member of the Interfaith Green Network. “Keeping a few bags with you when you head out to the store or run errands will eventually become second nature.”

The Interfaith Green Network is a faith-based sustainability initiative made up of 17 area congregations. As part of the Interfaith Green Network’s waste reduction team, members have been working closely with the Oak Park village and local retailers to ask for their support in a free bag promotion to kick off the new year. On January 6, from 9 am-noon, the following area grocers will be giving away free bags to customers (while supplies last) Please shop at and support these local retailers:

  • Carnival Grocery, Oak Park Ave.

  • Carnivore, Pleasant St.

  • CVS, Madison St.

  • Fair Share Super Market, Roosevelt Rd.

  • Jewel, Madison St.

  • Jewel, Roosevelt Rd.

  • Pete’s Fresh Market, Lake St.

  • Sugar Beet, Madison St.

  • Target, Lake St.

  • Trader Joe’s, Harlem

  • Whole Foods, Lake St. (RF)

Impact of Single-Use Bags

  • Americans use an estimated 100 billion plastic bags a year, or about 360 bags for every man, woman and child. If tied together, those 100 billion plastic bags would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times.

  • High-density polyethylene plastic bags, which are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, take more than 200 years to degrade. As polyethylene breaks down, toxic substances leach into the soil and waterways, and enter the food chain.

  • Paper bags have a higher carbon footprint than plastic because more energy is required to produce and transport them.