Amherst finally bans plastic bags in stores and restaurants

Amherst cites the town uses 12 million plastic bags a year

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) –  Plastic bags are now a thing of the past in Amherst grocery stores. As of the new year, Amherst joined 30 other Massachusetts cities and towns that ban single-use plastic bags from stores and restaurants.

With that ban, goes the convenience of using them for other reasons, such as lining smaller trash cans and holding clothes. JoAnn Judice told 22News, “If you need to go to the beach, you just put your bathing suit in there. They’re handy just for a lot of things.”

The new bylaw aims to reduce the town’s carbon footprint and protect wildlife. Amherst residents use an estimated 12 million plastic bags a year. Tom Alves of Big Y Amherst admits paper bags weigh and cost more, but he supports the change. “We’re more than happy to accommodate whatever is required to help our customers and be in compliance with the town as well,” says Alves.

The only time you’ll see plastic bags at the market are to separate meats and perishable items, which are town approved.

If you want to avoid using big paper bags, which can seem really inconvenient, all you need to do is start buying reusable bags – but they come with the responsibility of cleaning them often. Sometimes, food particles will fall to the bottom of the bags and create bacteria that you can neither see nor smell.

To minimize bacteria, Use separate bags for raw meets, seafood and produce. It’s suggested you wash your bags after every use, and how you clean them depends on the material. Store the bags, once dry, in a cool and dry location. Avoid putting them in the trunk of your car, which can overheat easily and actually help foster bacteria growth.

Northampton banned the use of single-use plastic bags across the city starting January 1st, 2016.