Got your reusable bags? Beginning today, you’ll need them every time you shop in Vermont.
We couldn’t be happier about the Vermont single-use products law (Act 69), which goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1. After all, we launched our BYOB “Bring Your Own Bag” program in 2016. Our vision when we started the program was to see “reusable bags used exclusively throughout the Upper Valley.” So when the law passed in the Vermont legislature last summer, we exchanged a few fist pumps here at the Market. A year later, we can’t wait to see the law in action.
What does the law include?
The law, which is the nation’s broadest single-use plastics ban, prohibits the use of plastic carry-out bags, plastic stirrers, and expanded polystyrene (a.k.a Styrofoam) and restricts the use of plastic straws in stores and food-service establishments throughout Vermont. Although paper carryout bags are allowed, stores are required to charge at least 10 cents per bag.
We think the paper bag fee is good incentive to remember your reusable bag, because paper bags aren’t great for the planet either. During manufacturing they release heavy metals and greenhouse gasses into the environment.
All bag fees collected at the Market will be donated to local nonprofits, such as the Woodstock Community Food Shelf. So if you forget your reusable bag when you shop with us, at least you know that your paper bag fee is going to a good cause. We also have reusable bags for sale at the registers: our bright orange Farmers’ Market bag (on sale for $1.99) and our cloth Totes Local bag made by a women-owned company in New Hampshire ($14.99). In recent weeks, some of you have asked whether you’re allowed to bring in your own bags for grocery use. The answer is a resounding “yes, you can!”
What’s still allowed?
- Plastic bags are still permitted for carrying loose items like produce and bulk food, as well as for containing frozen foods, meat, and fish. Although we provide plastic produce bags for your convenience, we encourage you to “shop naked” (go without the bag) or bring your own mesh bag.
- To-go coffee cups aren’t included in the ban, but the state of Vermont encourages the use of travel mugs and refillable water bottles. As an incentive to bring your reusable mug to the Market, the cost of a coffee refill (in any size travel mug) is $1.79, plus tax.
- The ban says that plastic straws can be provided only upon request. At the Market, we don’t use plastic straws at all, but we have PLA biodegradable straws if you ask for one. We also sell metal straws!
FYI, Stores and eateries are allowed to continue using any of the banned items until July 2021 if they were ordered before May 15, 2019. So you may still see them around for a bit until businesses run through their inventory.
We are proud to live in a state that’s taking this important step to protect our waterways, wildlife, and health.