Plastic bag ban: Is Oahu ready for the switch?

If you live on Oahu, you may not think it’s that out of the ordinary. But Honolulu is the only county left in the state where you’ll still see plastic bags used in grocery stores.

An estimated tally finds 400 million plastic bags are used each year on the island of Oahu.

“Plastic bags are the most ubiquitous and most consumer-oriented object you will find in the U.S. So, the estimates are staggering,” said Robert Harris with Sierra Club Hawaii.

Honolulu has been slow to ban the bags. But come next year, they will be swiped from your neighborhood store.

“Everything. Everything has plastic bags now and people really don’t like that sense of change, but I feel once it’s implemented, it will be better in the long run,” shopper Tyler Crooks said.

Crooks got used to opting for paper bags while living on Kauai.

“I thought it would be a pain and a hard process to involve myself in ’cause plastic bags are everywhere. So on Kauai, just a paper bag wasn’t that hard, so I think it will be integrated here pretty easily,” Crooks said.

The ban takes effect July 1, 2015 on Oahu. This year, notices will go out to affected businesses reminding them of the change. Then next year, the city will begin inspection and enforcement.

There are some exceptions to the rule like the plastic bags you get to put your produce in, as well as those long dry cleaning bags. The plastic bags you get for your newspaper will also be allowed.

Non-exempt businesses caught violating the ban would face fines of up to $1,000 per day.

But convincing shoppers to switch and then to remember their reusable bags is another hurdle.

“I think people should be required to bring their own bags. I forgot today and made a huge mistake,” shopper Janak Tull said.

“People just don’t like change, but once they try it, they’re not so afraid,” shopper Lekha Tull said.

“It is and it’s always in your car and they are so cheap. They sell bags for 99 cents. They are less. It’s not hard,” shopper Tisha Tom said.

Affected businesses on Oahu will have to submit a compliance form to the city this year, indicating how they plan to address the ban.

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