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New Chicago law ditches plastic bags in 2015

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As convenient as plastic bags may be for grocery shopping, they're not nearly as convenient on the environment.

According to National Geographic, somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Ocean Conservancy counts these bags in the top five items for most likely to litter coasts and waterways around the world.

But there have been steps to improve the trash problems.

Shoppers have noticed the recent surge in reusable bags, and some stores are encouraging recycling cloth bags or reusing plastic bags with a monetary incentive. Target provides a $0.05 discount for each plastic bag that shoppers bring.

This initiative resulted in 140 million reusable bags helping to eliminate what would've been over 350 million plastic bags wasted.

Whole Foods Market either gives shoppers a $0.05 discount per bag used -- reusable, paper or plastic -- or customers can donate the money to a charitable cause.

And customers at grocery stores like Aldi's have the option of purchasing bags, using paper bags, recycling their own cloth or plastic bags, or utilizing the stock boxes.

For shoppers who don't make a point of these options, this may no longer be an option.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the effort to ban plastic bags. And the Chicago City Council voted 36-10 on Wed., April 30, to ban plastic bags in most stores starting in 2015.

The ban was proposed by Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno from Chicago's first district and will go into effect in August 2015 to chain stores (three or more stores with the same owner). Franchise stores that are over 10,000 square feet will also be included.

Smaller chain stores are off the hook until 2016.

This entry was originally written by Shamontiel on May 1 for a recycling company and is republished with her permission on Examiner.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest Chicago news and events entries, or subscribe to her Chicago News & Events channel at the top of this page. Follow Shamontiel's Green Living Pinterest board for more environmental news, reviews and tips.

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