How would it affect tourists?
The idea of a plastic bag ban in Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and the city of Gunnison was presented to the Crested Butte Town Council on Monday by Office for Resource Efficiency (ORE) Executive Director Kristen Van Hoesen. While no direction was decided upon, ORE hopes the council will seriously consider such an ordinance before Earth Day on April 22.
Van Hoesen presented an informational PowerPoint to the council Monday evening. She said the move is a collaborative effort among ORE, Western State Colorado University, and the youth councils of Crested Butte and Gunnison. She said families on average use about 1,500 single-use plastic bags annually. Of those, only about 3 percent are recycled.
“Our goal is the elimination of plastic bags and the implementation of a 10-cent fee on paper bags.” Van Hoesen said. She said Colorado towns such as Telluride, Aspen and Breckenridge all have similar ordinances on the books.
In place of the plastic bags, there would be the opportunity to utilize a reusable decorative Gunnison Valley cloth bag that would be given away.
“We are at the stage where we are trying to get the information out there and open the dialogue about the idea,” Van Hoesen told the council. “We are approaching the government boards and businesses.”
Van Hoesen explained there is usually a six-month transition period after the ordinance passes to phase out the use of plastic bags.
Councilperson and Alpine Express bus driver Jim Schmidt said it is a common practice to drop off visitors to the local markets before taking them to their condos and there are times he has seen more than 100 plastic grocery bags on his bus. He asked how the initiative would affect tourists and asked how Clark’s Market in Crested Butte would deal with it. Clark’s also has markets in Telluride and Aspen.
“Clark’s has been supportive in general with us,” Van Hoesen said.
“I’ve heard this is more a ‘feel-good’ type of thing that doesn’t really do much,” said Schmidt.
“We are trying to be a leader in sustainability,” responded Van Hoesen. “This is an easy way to take a step that’s significant and impacts pollution.”
Van Hoesen said informal talks with area businesses have been good. Some businesses are immediately behind the idea, while others have questions.
Councilperson Chris Ladoulis asked if there were alternatives to outright bans. Van Hoesen said the other Colorado ordinances have bans to varying degrees. Some limit the ban to grocery stores and don’t include retail shops. Others charge a fee for plastic as well as paper bags.
The council said they appreciated the information but gave no immediate direction for their attorney to draw up an ordinance banning plastic bags in Crested Butte. They hoped to hear how the other municipalities reacted to the idea.