B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag)
Old Monterey Farmers Market bans plastic bags, Styrofoam
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Beginning on Earth Day, shoppers at the Tuesday Farmers Market on Monterey’s Alvarado Street will see a new policy at work: Vendors no longer will offer petroleum-based plastic bags or polystyrene packaging.
The Old Monterey Business Association board unanimously decided to ban the polluting materials in late February. The primary reason is because the non-biodegradable materials can clog city storm drains that flow into Monterey Bay, according to association director Rick Johnson.
“Our concern for the blue is causing us to go green,” he says. “We simply do not want to add any possible problems going into that bay from our Farmers Market.”
As the largest weekly gathering in the county, the market is an ideal venue for raising environmental awareness, Johnson says. Many of the vendors sell organic produce, he notes, “and yet that produce is going into plastic bags that could harm the environment. There was sort of a dichotomy there.”
The association is asking fruit and vegetable vendors to switch to biodegradable plastic or paper bags. Hot food sales will be packed in recyclable cardboard or bio-plastic containers.
“Those products are out there and they’re easy to get,” Johnson says. At least two local companies, Passion Purveyors and Monterey Sanitary Supply, sell eco-packaging.
Customers can help by bringing their own bags or buying re-usable cloth bags at the market.
Vendor reactions to the new rules have been mixed, Johnson says: “Nobody likes to be told that something is prohibited.” But he expects most traveling vendors to make the shift sooner or later, as more farmers markets throughout the state—particularly in coastal communities, such as in Oceanside—impose plastic bans of their own.
“This is the direction our state’s going,” Johnson says. “I believe it’s the coastal cities that will lead the state that leads the nation.”