Hey Lakewood, Get Rid of Your Baggage

Two community organizations will gladly take clean, reusable plastic bags off your hands and offer them to other residents who might be in a jam without them.

I have a serious glut of blue-and-white plastic bags hanging on hooks at the 90-degree angle of my Deadman’s Curve – a.k.a. my family’s recycling hub on the crowded landing to our basement.

This haphazard display of ubiquitousness can make me see red. And it’s not a patriotic feeling.

For me, it’s a firecracker reminder of all the times I forgot my reusable bags – yes, shame on me, I’m a bad soccer mom – and it’s an unrealistic goal of how many times a day I’ll need to walk my neurotic black Lab. Thank God for Max though, he’s the only one who gets excited at the rustling of a plastic bag around our house.

Up until February, I figured I could throw excess plastic bags in my recycling. That was a short-lived reprieve. Turns out, Greenstar – where Lakewood’s recycling is taken – doesn’t want any excess plastic bags in the recycling. You can still place your recyclables in the plastic bags from the grocery, you just can’t throw empty plastic bags in with your plastic, aluminum, glass and mixed paper.

Today, on our country’s Independence Day, I am not only pledging freedom from harsh self judgment but I’m embracing some local options for recycling my “baggage.”

In addition to drop off locations at Giant Eagle and Heinen’s, residents are encouraged to donate their extra bags to help out a neighbor at Lakewood Public Library or four-legged visitors to Lakewood and Kauffman Parks.

Since Earth Day 2010, Lakewood Public Library officially stopped purchasing and handing out plastic bags to patrons as part of an overall effort to be more environmentally friendly, said Leana Donofrio-Milovan, who is a paraprofessional in the adult and electronic services at Lakewood Library.

As part of the library’s go-green initiative, they began encouraging the use of reusable bags in several ways.

“Who doesn’t have piles of plastic bags that they are trying to get rid of? We purchased three large recycling bins -- two at the main library and one at Madison -- for a Take a Bag, Leave a Bag program,” she said.  At the main library, one bin is located in the first-floor community room and the other is located in the second floor audio visual room. “We welcome clean reusable cloth and plastic bags. We want to create an easy way for our patrons to recycle these bags so they don't end up in a landfill, while at the same time helping out their neighbors.”

To encourage the use of cloth over plastic, the library’s Childrens and Youth Services Department launched a "Sew Your Own Tote" program. Anyone 8 or older can participate. The library welcomes anyone who wants to volunteer fabric, thread or sewing expertise. Staff members and patrons are welcome to keep any totes they make, or donate them to the Friends of Lakewood Public Library who sell them at the Main Branch.

There’s a similar philosophy at Lakewood and Kauffman Parks where leashed dogs are now welcome – every day except today – Fourth of July. Residents are welcome to bring their clean plastic bags to stock any of the dog waste stations scattered around the parks. There are six stations throughout Lakewood Park and two at Kauffman Park.

“The practice of "Take a Bag, Leave a Bag" has been adopted, meaning the users of the park are responsible for bringing bags to fill the stations,” reads the website of the nonprofit Citizens’ Committee to Allow Leashed Dogs in Lakewood Parks. “As you collect plastic grocery store bags, please bring them with you to help fill the stations.  And if you forget to bring a bag with you, please use the bags that are provided to clean up after your dog. The stations are sponsored by local businesses who helped pay for them.”

Don’t you love these options? It makes me proud to be a Lakewoodite, and an American, today. These are just two examples of organizations being creative, resourceful and responsible. Why hold onto the old ways of doing things when you can change and be free from all the baggage.

I counted out 50 of my plastic bags to donate and boy do I feel lighter.

Happy Fourth of July everyone and don’t forget to put your freedom to good use.

Just a reminder, because of the holiday there will be no refuse or recycling collected today. Residents whose refuse is normally collected on Monday will have collection on Tuesday. Residents whose refuse is normally collected on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday should have their refuse and recyclables available for collection on their regular day, and it will be collected either on that day or the day after. Residents whose refuse is normally collected on Friday will have collection on Friday.

Residents should set out trash and recycling on the curb or tree lawn after 6:00 p.m. on the night before collection day and by 6:30 a.m. on collection day.

Melanie Shearer July 06, 2011 at 12:05 PM
Hi, Chrissy! We were recently at an art show and I found a wonderful lady who crochets plastic bags into new and reusable shopping bags. I decided to try it for myself and was surprised at how easy it is. If you take the bags and cut them into loops, you can make them into "string" which can then be crocheted. I thought this was a fabby idea for those of us that consistently forget our eco-bags. Now if I can only remember to take the crocheted bag with me...


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