In the bag - Albuquerque Journal

In the bag

Where are single-use bags banned?

The Albuquerque plastic bag ban, officially Albuquerque’s Clean and Green Retail Ordinance (O-48), resumed Aug. 1 after being put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, when folks questioned the health risks of having consumers haul in bags from parts unknown and placing them on store counters and conveyer belts.

Bernalillo County has an ordinance for restricting single-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers. Santa Fe has a single-use plastic bag ban that has been in place for several years. Rio Rancho does not have an ordinance on plastic bags, though some businesses in Rio Rancho have made decisions to not use single-use plastic bags, and some offer paper bags.

Other New Mexico communities have passed or are considering ordinances addressing plastic bags, many with a definition of “reusable” as a bag with a thickness of 2.25 millimeters. The Albuquerque Clean and Green Retail Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions site says bags less than 2.25-millimeters thick are “single use.” (

Who charges for reusable ones?

The Albuquerque ordinance allows retailers to charge for the thicker reusable bags. Various retailers are providing the thicker bags. Walmart charges 10 cents per bag. Local representatives of Smith’s, Sprouts and Target were not aware of plans to charge for the bags. Albertsons offers paper bags. Some hardware stores offer paper bags.

What other bags are OK as reusable?

The thicker bags are considered reusable. In checking with multiple retailers, they all indicated that customers could bring the thicker bags or paper bags into the store for carrying their goods. If the bags are soiled, do not reuse them for shopping.

Reusable bags that you can purchase or that are given as promotional items include woven or nonwoven polypropylene, nylon or polyester, bamboo or hemp, cotton and insulated bags.

How do I care for a reusable bag?

The reusable bags need proper care to prevent germs and mold from growing and cross-contaminating your food.

Use separate bags for raw meats, seafood and produce. Have bags for non-food items like cleaning items, hygiene products, or other household items. Consider using a marker to label your bags.

Keep your bags in a place that is easy to access for use. Think about what else is in that area, such as sports gear or chemicals, to avoid cross-contamination. Use a box, crate – or bag! – to keep your bags together and ready for use.

Wash the bags after each use, following the care instructions on the tag in your fabric/woven/insulted bags. The following instructions were found on the internet, with links below:

  • Polypropylene: Machine wash (gentle cycle with soap and cold water) or hand wash in soap and water. Line dry.
  • Nylon or polyester: Hand wash in warm water and soap. Turn inside out and line dry.
  • Bamboo or hemp: Hand or machine wash (gentle cycle) with mild laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.
  • Cotton: Machine wash with hot water and laundry detergent. Machine or line dry.
  • Insulated bags: Hand wash in warm water and soap or wipe with disinfecting or anti-bacterial wipes, especially along seams. Line dry.

And remove any inserts and clean those with a disinfecting cleaner.

Make sure the bag is dry before putting it back to use again.

Where can I get more bags?

Watch for opportunities of free bags at festivals, conferences or other events. For purchase, consider supporting very small businesses that are making shopping bags. Bags made by local senior crafters can be purchases at the Blue Portal in Old Town, operated by the Assistance League of Albuquerque. We are entering the craft fair season where you can purchase handmade bags. See if a neighbor is making bags, or ask on Nextdoor.

Make your own bags from T-shirts that you no longer use. There is minimal to no-sew directions on websites. Do a search for grocery bag from a T-shirt. DIY | NO Sew T-Shirt Bag (SO Easy!!) – YouTube . Keep in mind you want a bag about the same size as a shopping bag. Too big and it will be too heavy to lift and carry comfortably.


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