Tuthill pondering plastic bag ban

City Council member floating idea at neighborhood meetings

THE WEDGE — On her visits to Ward 10 neighborhood board meetings in August, City Council Member Meg Tuthill told her constituents she’s considering a proposal to ban plastic shopping bags in Minneapolis.

“You know how we have certain things in our lives that we just can’t stand? This is one of them for me,” Tuthill said.

This summer, Los Angeles became the latest and largest city in the country to adopt a ban on single-use plastic bags. The Denver City Council is currently weighing a 5-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags as a way to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags.

Tuthill said she’s been researching the issue since late last year but wants to get more feedback from city residents and business owners — including grocers, dry cleaners and corner store operators — before introducing an ordinance proposal. Tuthill alerted her colleague from Ward 8, Elizabeth Glidden, the chair of the Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee, that she could have a draft ordinance ready before the end of the year.

She said she’s “not interested” in adding a small fee to the bags as an alternative to a ban. Mandating that stores provide biodegradable plastic bags could be another alternative, but Tuthill said she needed to learn more about their cost and the proximity of suppliers, noting the environmental toll of shipping such bags long distances could negate any benefits from requiring their use.

Tuthill said she never liked plastic bags, expressing particular annoyance at their tendency to end up as “tree ornaments.”

At Tuthill’s Balloon Emporium, the small Uptown business she operated for 30 years, large plastic bags corralled balloons for transport. Otherwise, Tuthill avoided using them.

“We did handled paper bags so that people could re-use them as gift bags,” she said.