Aspen, Carbondale ban plastic bags at main grocery stores, promote reusable alternatives

Aspen is getting serious about its environmental messaging.

Last week, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to take a hike after it tired of the national group’s pro-pollution agenda. And now, effective today, the main food markets in Aspen and Carbondale have stopped bagging groceries in plastic.

Aspen and Carbondale are trying to prevent plastic bags from fouling up the environment. (Photo credit: Travis Staley/Istock)

Aspen City Council and the Carbondale Board of Trustees passed ordinances banning plastic bags last fall. The legislation only affects the City Market and Clark’s Market in Aspen and the City Market in Carbondale and does not impact smaller food and retail stores. Leaders in nearby Basalt tried enacting a similar measure but it was recently shot down by voters.

Shoppers in Aspen and Carbondale have the option of bringing reusable (e.g. cloth) bags, buying paper sacks at the markets for 20 cents a piece, or purchasing reusable bags. For a limited time, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency will be handing out free reusable bags too.

The bans and fees aim to diminish the amount of paper and plastic that ends up in local landfills and spoils the natural environment. Aspen City Councilman Torre has been pushing for the ban ever since returning from a sailing trip where he discovered islands of plastic bags floating through the seas. He has also lamented pulling plastic bags out of the Roaring Fork Valley’s rivers.

To get the word out about the new rules, Spencer McKnight and Joel Lee at Aspen Video Productions recruited skier Chris Davenport, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, musician John Oates, Mayor Mick Ireland and other Aspen area residents to make the commercial below.