Dear Mayor Anan, Honorable Trustees, and Ms. Pavlicek,
This past weekend I was informed by my local cashier at Pete’s Fresh Market (259 Lake St.) that I was unable to bag my own groceries in-store using my personal reusable bags due to a change in policy. I inquired further and was directed by Pete’s to the “Extension of Supplemental Order – Suspension of the Village of Oak Park’s Retail Single-Use Bag Fee and Guidance on Reusable Bags,” dated Aug. 26, to which you were distributed a copy.
Contrary to the name, this policy does not provide any guidance on the use of reusable bags. This is an old debate, and the Governor’s executive order was issued on June 26. While the executive order does, in fact, state in section 3(b) “discontinue the use of reusable bags” the Governor’s Office has publicly commented that the intent is not to stop individuals from packing their own reusable bags in store. This was reported on July 6 by Monica Eng for WBEZ in “How to avoid plastic grocery bags during Illinois’ reusable bag ban” (https://www.npr.org/local/309/2020/07/06/887111987/how-to-avoid-plastic-grocery-bags-during-illinois-reusable-bag-ban).
Monica reported: “When asked by WBEZ, both Pritzker’s office and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity agreed that the executive order was never meant to prevent shoppers from packing their own bags in the store.”
The major point of debate in Illinois seems to be whether or not customers can pack their own bags inside stores, and with the repeated scientific studies showing that clean, reusable containers do not spread the virus, there is no reason to disrupt consumer’s lives more than necessary.
By forcing Oak Park consumers to accept plastic or paper waste where the Governor’s order allowed stores to set their own policy, the village of Oak Park is getting involved in an ongoing debate on the use of reusable bags without providing any additional guidance or clarity.
The CDC indicates that person-to-person transmission and not contaminated surfaces are the primary method of virus transmission. Unless the village felt the need to adopt provisions stricter than those contained in the Governor’s order and contrary to public comments made by the Governor’s Office, I would ask that you please provide guidance in this and future orders which explicitly allows individuals to pack their own reusable bags within retail stores located in the village of Oak Park.