Linda Combs

Palmer City Councilwoman Linda Combs displays a blue mesh reusable grocery bags with a picture of Palmer’s water tower on it. This bag is an alternative to disposable plastic bags, which are now banned in Palmer.

PALMER — Those shopping in Palmer are changing the way they transport their goods. The city of Palmer’s plastic bag ban took effect Jan. 1, and retailers will no longer offer disposable plastic bags at the check stand.

The ordinance passed by the Palmer City Council on May 22 by a 4-1 vote was a long time coming, according to Palmer City Councilwoman Linda Combs.

“We worked on doing this for several years,” Combs said. “It’s been a long time coming but it was the right thing to do.”

Palmer follows the city of Wasilla, which banned disposable plastic bags in 2018.

Combs said outside the Palmer Carrs-Safeway store on Wednesday that she had been in discussions to sponsor the bag ban legislation over the past three years. When it finally came to fruition, the city of Palmer wanted to make sure they had the ban right, learning from missteps in Wasilla. The ordinance bans the distribution of plastic bags less than four mils thick. A mil is a unit of measurement equivalent to one thousandth of one inch. An amendment was made to allow for the distribution of plastic bags less than four mils for the purposes of protecting fruit, candy, pharmaceuticals, newspaper, baked goods, flowers, pet waste and garbage bags.

Combs said that she had spent time on Tuesday passing out a half-dozen blue mesh reusable grocery bags with a picture of Palmer’s water tower on them. When the council finally took up the ordinance after discussing and tabling action for months, members of the community came out in droves to support the bag ban. Molly Boyer of the Mat-Su Zero Waste Coalition showed video of the experimental farm where caribou had suffered from ingesting plastic bags that had blown in the wind and gotten stuck in the bushes. Stories of horses and dogs who had also ingested plastic bags were shared, and many members of the public were passionate about improving the appearance of Palmer without plastic bag debris stuck in the trees.

“I think the real positive obviously is fewer plastic bags being blown around by the wind. I think just the whole mindset changing though, let’s take care of our community. Let’s take care of our environment, and you know how we are in Palmer we’re all about that,” Combs said.

Discussion by the council had centered around imposing improper regulations of the people. Steve Carrington, the lone member of the council to vote against the bag ban, said he didn’t want to force consumer habits on Palmer’s residents. Many local Palmer businesses sold reusable bags during the holiday season. As of Tuesday, the only major detriment to shoppers via the bag ban that is only 48 hours old is time. Baggers at grocery stores are prepping paper bags for those who do not have their own reusable bags when they enter the store..

“They’re going to have to shop a little bit different, they’re going to have to remember things,” Combs said.

Contact Frontiersman reporter Tim Rockey at tim.rockey@frontiersman.com.

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