Gwyn Vukmer of Warren has been using reusable bags since the early 90s to cut back on the amount of bags that end up in landfills.
"There is so much plastic," she said.
While Vukmer has noticed that the bags have become more readily available to customers, she wants to take the movement a step further and abolish plastic bag use altogether.
Although there’s not been any state-wide ban of plastic bags in Ohio, reusable bag use has become popular in the region. Bags are readily available in area grocery stores, and many customers have taken to foregoing plastic bags in favor of going green.
Many cities have already done so.
San Francisco banned plastic bags from grocery stores and pharmacies in 2007. In 2008, Los Angeles City Council voted to ban plastic bags in supermarkets if California didn't impose a 25 cent fee on shoppers who requested them. Many other municipalities in the state have passed plastic bag bans or reduction plans, and a state panel in Florida might also consider a ban.
Plastic bag bans are also popular outside the United States. China banned plastic bags in 2008, and countries like Australia, Ireland and Italy have taken steps to discourage use.
Although there's not been any state-wide ban in Ohio, reusable bag use has become popular in the region. Bags are readily available in area grocery stores, and many customers have taken to foregoing plastic bags in favor of going green.
Penny Dahmen's family recycled everything at home, and about a year ago they made the switch to reusable grocery bags, said Dahmen, of Mecca.
The availability of the bags at the stores may have helped.
"When they had these, it made sense," Dahmen said.
Talera Jennings of Warren views reusable bags as more practical than plastic ones.
"I could probably get more in it than just a regular bag," said Jennings, who began using reusable bags about a year ago.
Several area stores offer the bags to customers.
On Earth Day, Target in Niles gave green-colored bags to the first 500 customers. Several customers use their own bags, and the store also sells bags.
"We sell quite a bit," said Dawn Koehn, team leader of human resources. Target offers a 5-cent discount per bag to customers.
After customers started requesting the bags, Sparkle in Warren started selling them a little over a year ago, said Bob Snyder, store manager.
Snyder estimated that the store sells about 100 bags per month. Only about five percent of customers use reusable bags, however.
"They're not widely used," Snyder said.
Still, Snyder said he thinks reusable bag use will grow in popularity.
Macali's Giant Eagle in Warren has already noticed the change.
The grocery store sells a total of about 35 reusable bags per week, said coordinator Julie Storey. Customers are using even more, she said.
"There's definitely a huge increase in the amount of bags being used," Storey said.
In 2008, Storey started putting the bags on the end of registers, which helped to boost their sales, she said. Giant Eagle has been offering reusable bags since about 2007.
Donna Holt of Warren, who works in the bakery there, said she started using the bags when Giant Eagle started offering them.
"I try to always remember to use them anywhere," she said.
Using the bags is the least we can do for our planet, said Holt. "It's an easy thing to do."