As City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told Council Tuesday night, May 26, “August 1 is right around the corner, [and that date marks] the effective date of our new regulations regarding plastic shopping bags.” With that in mind, the City announced a sackful of initiatives to help residents and businesses alike adjust to life without the flimsy filmy containers.

Soon, Evanston shoppers will have to provide their own bags for carrying groceries home, purchase reusable bags at the grocery store, or use paper bags. The City’s Sustainability Manager, Catherine Hurley, said the City encouraged residents to “Think Outside the Bag!”

Evanston’s ordinance will ban plastic bags at retail stores of greater than 10,000 square feet, which includes most grocery and drug stores as well as the other larger box stores in the City. Chicago has passed a similar bag ban which also goes into effect in August.

Evanston staff plans to get the word out in as many ways as possible.

Ms. Hurley spoke of the ways. Email, social media, a new website (, posters and handouts and store outreach. The City will promote a “share-a-bag” program, encouraging those with extra reusable shopping bags to share the extras with residents who need them. The City will give out free reusable blue “We Love Evanston” shopping bags at select locations until supplies run out.

Shopping bag giveaways began June 3 at Fleetwood Jourdain, and continue June 8 at the Library’s south branch, Main Street at Chicago Avenue. The City’s website has a complete list of dates, places, and times for future bag giveaways.

The City is also expanding its recycling program to include plastic bag and film packaging recycling, said Ms. Hurley, though this plastic will need to go into special bins and not into residents’ curbside recycling containers. Film and bags can be remanufactured into wood decking and outdoor furniture, she added.

Those concerned about using plastic bags to pick up dog waste will find dedicated dog waste bags on sale at retail outlets that once packaged purchases in such bags, said Ms. Hurley.

Former Ninth Ward Alderman Coleen Burrus, who worked tirelessly to pass a bag ban, will sadly not be here to witness her vision implemented. Ms. Burrus moved to New Jersey to take a job at Princeton University this spring.