UAA community prepares to adapt to plastic bag ban

Graphic by Michaeline Collins.

As of Sept. 15, the Municipality of Anchorage’s plastic bag ban is in effect. All businesses in Anchorage must comply with this ban.

Reusable bags are the advised alternative to plastic bags, according to the Municipality of Anchorage.

The Municipality of Anchorage’s official plastic bag poster offers a visual representation of acceptable shopping bags. Graphic courtesy of the Municipality of Anchorage.

“Reusable bags are sold at most grocery stores in Anchorage,” the Municipality of Anchorage’s official plastic bag ban FAQ page said. “You may also repurpose items such as tote bags or book bags for shopping.”

Some students are concerned about the price and accessibility of reusable bags for lower-income households. Brittnie Dillingham is a junior psychology major and she feels that due to their high price, it is difficult to get a large enough quantity of reusable bags for practical use.

“I know they have them at all the stores, but I don’t want to take money out of my funds for food to buy [reusable] bags,” Dillingham said. “I’m a college student, I’m in school, I have bills I have to pay, now I need to get my own bags so I can go shopping.”

The UAA Green Fee Board has provided reusable shopping totes to students in the past. Photo courtesy of the UAA Green Fee Facebook page.

While tabling on Sept. 12, various representatives from the Green Fee Board expressed the sentiment that reusable bags are necessary, urging students walking through the Student Union to take a free bag. Their Facebook page states that reusable shopping bags are available at the Student Life and Leadership office, while supplies last.

Non-plastic, single-use bags, most often paper bags, may be purchased for $0.10 or more at any business in Anchorage, with a maximum surcharge of $0.50 per transaction.

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Businesses may not offer plastic bags for purchase at the register. If a customer does not want to use a bag, they are not required to pay for a non-plastic bag they will not use.

The UAA Bookstore had signs posted notifying the clientele of the plastic bag ban. Photo by Robert Gant.

The UAA Bookstore offers both reusable and paper bags for purchase. Their limited array of reusable bags that will be replenished after their next shipment of goods.

Paper bags are not considered a necessary school supply at this time and may not be covered by funds in student accounts. The bookstore is currently working toward the possibility of charging the purchase of paper bags to student accounts for the spring semester.

Isabel Mead is the electronics assistant buyer for the UAA Bookstore and a UAA alumnus. She has been heavily involved in strategizing and preparing for the ordinance. Mead and the bookstore staff are working to ensure they do not waste the bags they have on hand.

“We’re not going to just chuck [the plastic bags],” Mead said. “One option is to use the plastic bags as reusable dividers to separate textbook orders.”

Mead expressed surprise at the bookstore not running out of plastic bags prior to the ban. The UAA Bookstore has not ordered any additional shipments of bags since the previous semester.

“Even when we offered [plastic] bags, students usually bring their own [reusable] bags or just carry [their purchase] out themselves,” Mead said.

For more information on the plastic bag ban, email [email protected] or call (907) 343-7123.