Prairie Village considers sacking plastic retail bags

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- In one suburb, the paper or plastic option may end. Prairie Village shoppers may soon witness a battle between commerce and conservation.

City leaders are considering regulation of the number of plastic bags used by retailers, but at what cost?

Prairie Village isn't the first community to consider doing this. City Council members in Baltimore, Md. just approved a plan to regulate the number of bags retailers give its customers, and the state of California recently banned the bags altogether.

It's an initiative meant to keep this community cleaner and greener. Environmentalists complain that plastic retail bags have become a common source of litter.

“Litter comes from everywhere,” said Ben Claypool.

Claypool has called Prairie Village his home for the past four years, and he serves on the City Council's environmental committee that helps educate people about ways to keep the Earth cleaner. He sees those plastic bags that start at the retail store end up as litter strewn everywhere.

“You'll see it in parks. You'll see it in trees. You'll see it in highways. You'll see it everywhere,” Claypool said.

Claypool and other committee members have talked with city leaders for a year, and now they plan to meet with retailers in Prairie Village about restricting the quantity of plastic bags they use.

“The end goal of this is that we use something that's reusable. People, I'm sure, have seen the reusable bags you can take in. They have a long life,” Claypool said.

By comparison, plastic bags don't. Scientists say plastics are non-biodegradable, and the sacks merely take up space in our landfills.

Sarah Grunhard shops at the Hy-Vee grocery store on State Line Road often. She says she's traveled to other nations -- where plastic bags aren't part of the retail business.

“When we've traveled in Europe, there are no plastic bags. You pay a penalty for purchasing a bag. I think if people are going to recycle them, that's fine. But if not, going toward no bags is fine,” she said.

FOX 4 asked managers at several retailers in Prairie Village to go on-camera, but no one granted our request. One store manager said he'd anticipate customers paying more at the cash register if retailers had to change the way they bag up purchases.