Town of Vail encourages reusable bags at grocery stores |

Town of Vail encourages reusable bags at grocery stores

The town of Vail purchased 30,000 reusable bags to be distributed to the community and whoever needs them. The town's environmental sustainability program has given out about 15,000 of the reusable bags, and will continue to provide them while supplies last.
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Get your bags

Vail Transportation Center

Lionshead Transportation Center

Town Hall

Vail Public Library

VAIL — If you’re heading to grocery stores in Vail this holiday season, then don’t forget to bring reusable bags.

Plastic bags are no longer available in grocery stores in Vail, Safeway and City Market, and the town implemented a 10-cent fee for each brown paper bag used. The town began the ordinance in August.

“The intention of the program is to reduce waste associated with both paper and plastic bags, and as well as the environmental impacts that come with the single-use disposable items,” said Mark Hoblitzell, the environmental sustainability program coordinator for the town of Vail.

Reducing the amount of waste sent to the Eagle County Landfill is one of the primary initiatives of a 2009 environmental strategy plan, and single-use shopping bags make up a large portion of that waste.


As part of the program, the town purchased about 30,000 reusable bags with a picture of the Gore Range and mountain scenes on them. The town has distributed about half of the bags and will continue to do so while supplies last.

“We want to get a full year of learning from the program at the grocery stores and then evaluate and take what we’ve learned from there,”

Mark Hoblitzell

Environmental sustainability program coordinator

Town of Vail

The town of Vail’s free reusable bags are available at the town hall, the Lionshead and Vail Village transportation centers and the public library. The four locations also serve as bag share locations for people to drop off extra reusable bags for others or borrow one for themselves. There will also be bag giveaways at the Vail grocery stores this holiday season.

Waste reduction

By the town’s best estimate, there has been at least an 85 percent reduction in one-time bag use at the grocery stores, Hoblitzell said. The two stores, combined, went through about 4 million bags per year, he said, and currently they are distributing about 15,000 per month. Those numbers are expected to increase with the rest of December and the holiday season, but it’s still an exponential reduction.


Vail’s grocery stores are bustling with people in town for the holidays, and many people are already aware of the 10-cent fee, but it’s a proven struggle to remember reusable bags.

Kristi Cleary is in town from Nashville, Tennessee, and on Tuesday she was walking out of a Vail grocery store, having paid 10 cents for each of her brown paper bags.

“I ran off and forget the ones that our unit provide for us,” she said. “I used them the other day but forgot today.”

Barrie Johnson, of Aurora, was walking out Tuesday holding multiple items in both of his hands. He said he has reusable bags at home but forgot them. He said he was aware of the 10-cent fee, and figured it wasn’t too much to handle in his hands.

The town is monitoring how the bag ordinance at the two grocery stores goes before looking toward other businesses in Vail.

“We want to get a full year of learning from the program at the grocery stores and then evaluate and take what we’ve learned from there,” Hoblitzell said.

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