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Plastic bag ban: If Basalt leads the charge, can Aspen be far behind?

In Colorado, degenerate urbanites are used to letting our mountain towns take the lead when it comes to killjoy environmental reforms, such as restricting the use of gas grills or parking spaces. So it figures that the green-leaning town of Basalt is proposing to get tough on plastic bag sinners.

Basalt's town council doesn't prefer paper or plastic. On Monday, that venerable body approved the idea of developing an ordinance that would discourage the use of either one, aiming a 20-cent-per-bag surcharge at any shoppers careless enough to forget to bring their own reusable, presumably hemp-lined totes.

Last fall, Telluride became the first municipality in the state to ban plastic bags entirely, while sticking paper bag users with a 10-cent-per-bag fee. Basalt's proposal doubles down on that action, allowing shoppers to continue to use politically incorrect plastic provided they're prepared to shell out the extra dough.

According to this account in the Aspen Times, Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux and others think it might be unwise to proceed with a unilateral crusade against plastic, since disgruntled shoppers could decide to buy their pita and sprouts elsewhere. But members of the town's "Green Team" want to move ahead, hoping that Aspen and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley will follow suit.

Activists regard the bags as a landfill nuisance and a danger to wildlife. The bag industry has maintained that figures of marine deaths from bags have been greatly exaggerated. San Francisco has had tight restrictions on plastic bags for years, and countries ranging from Ireland to China have imposed their own bans, citing the enormous use of petroleum in manufacturing the bags.

Many details of Basalt's proposal have yet to be worked out, but there's been some discussion of using some of the revenue from the surcharge to help supply reusable bags. And maybe some gingko biloba as well, to help enlightened consumers remember to bring the bags with them when they go shopping.

More from our News archive: "Could proposed Colorado law to ban plastic bags actually end up hurting the environment?"