The Water Cooler – Stores Once Again Charging For Plastic Bags – Public Still Can’t Bring Reusable Bags

June 29, 2020 12:30 pm · 66 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Many grocery stores in Contra Costa County are once again charging $.10 for plastic bags, but you still can’t bring your own reusable bags due to COVID-19.

QUESTION: Should stores provide the plastic bags free of charge until we can bring our own, or do you think the stores have every right to charge for the bags?

Talk about it.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

The Masked (and gloved) Poster June 29, 2020 at 12:35 PM

As of yesterday, Safeway wasn’t charging.


Aunt Barbara June 29, 2020 at 4:20 PM

They charged me for a flimsy bag that broke in the parking lot. 🙁

Sam June 29, 2020 at 12:36 PM

Classic California bait and switch


Anon June 29, 2020 at 12:36 PM

I have used my own bags for years, but if the store will not allow it they should not charge for bags. You can’t have it both ways.


Gremlin June 29, 2020 at 12:36 PM

As long as we cannot bring our own reusable bags, stores need to provide bags at no cost.


RANDOM TASK June 29, 2020 at 12:46 PM

wow so the socialist liberals are backtracking

so the WHOLE reason for the charging of bags in the first place ….is now not convenient so you change the rules to suit your needs and or wants ….

figures …..

hypocrisy in this state will never end as the ill informed and wait and see liberal voters and politicians continue with reactive policies adhering to bad management policies forcing all of us to comply with their idiocy ….while they change their minds at will ….imposing their needs again over the rules they slammed on us in the first place

same old dems back at it


Original G June 29, 2020 at 12:47 PM

They can keep their plastic bags.

After scanning purchases checkers can load cart back up one item at a time.

Have reusable bags or manageable sized cardboard boxes waiting in your vehicle. That way as you unload the cart you control manageability and weight of bags or boxes. Makes it Safer for you when taking your purchases into your residence.


Roz June 29, 2020 at 2:45 PM

Yep,….we do the same thing. Don’t want anymore plastic bags since there are so many that are not recyclable anymore, and totally dislike having a collection of the reusable bags stuck at home. Also, we keep a cooler in our car too, and put frozen ice packs in if we are out on hot days for items to stay chilled.

OverWhelmed June 30, 2020 at 8:50 AM

Went to Walmart in Martinez about a month ago. Bought a bunch of little stuff as I am associated with technical repairs, and the person at the back counter asked me if i wanted a bag for a dime. I said you are actually charging for bags and not allowing us to bring our own? She said yes. I pulled my little bag in a pouch out opened it up and put my product in it. I said if anyone says anything I will let them know that you are charging for bags.

Happy Squash June 29, 2020 at 12:49 PM

You can’t have it both ways! If I cannot bring my own bags, then you should not be able to charge me for a bag. Totally unfair.


Sam Malone June 29, 2020 at 12:51 PM

If stores will not allow us to bring in our own reusable bags they darn better not charge me for a bag.

Newsom—address immediately.


Lazy One June 29, 2020 at 12:52 PM

NO! They should not charge. I have never been for the bag charge. I never fell for the excuse we had to be charged to save the environment. Hogwash! Now, more than ever people should not be putting food in dirty bags. The stores can afford to give bags. Follow the money. Not that it will do any good but I have called and left a message with my state senator and state assemblyman. I got tired of being on hold with the govenor’s office.


Sancho Panza June 29, 2020 at 12:52 PM

Has the science changed? Wasn’t the reason to not allow our own bags was that Covid-19 transmission on plastic was high? What gives….

No, we should not be charged.


Cowellian June 29, 2020 at 12:55 PM

Tennessee grocers still provide free bags, which is fortunate, because we reuse plastic bags all the time. Aldi’s is the exception, so I am done with them.

I do have a bunch of heavy-duty canvas totes that I take to Sam’s Club and Costco. I fill them in the back of my car, straight from the basket. They are much easier to carry into my house, and I no longer need to dispose of all those cardboard boxes.


Dawg June 29, 2020 at 12:59 PM

Stores do have a right to charge for bags. Under SB 270/Prop 67, they are required by law to charge at least ten cents. All I can say is, I think it’s a ridiculous law and I didn’t vote for it, anybody that did vote for it has no business complaining. We can however, thank our lame governor for placing a ban on bringing our own bags. Under the guise that it will help the store clerk who handles much dirtier money all day long from getting that darn dreadful virus.
Wash your hands and don’t touch your face.


Dorothy June 29, 2020 at 1:00 PM

No. As long as there is no choice or options then don’t charge for the bags. And use paper, not plastic.


Time to Go June 30, 2020 at 2:55 PM

What about the trees? Oh wait, that was the 70’s, now there’s no longer a concern for trees. Bring that worry back in 10 years to give the next generation anxiety over a new issue.

See what’s happening here…

Gittyup June 30, 2020 at 3:59 PM

@Time To Go In the 79s the ability to recycle and reuse paper had not reached the level of efficiency and frequency it has today. Paper bags can be recycled into new paper bags. They don’t have to be manufactured and remanufactured from scratch like plastic. Trees are also a renewable resource. More can be grown, they can be farmed with relative ease, and, with paper recycling, nothing goes to waste. Plastic lives on forever in the environment and has proven to be extremely detrimental to wildlife over and over, again.

Time to Go July 1, 2020 at 2:34 PM

So, let’s update our laws in California and get logging back on track for the rural communities. Thanks for clarifying trees are renewable and logging is acceptable as trees are a renewable energy.

The new plastic bags used by stores will NEVER decompose.

Jackie June 29, 2020 at 1:04 PM

They shouldn’t charge. Trader Joe’s has a bagging station outside their store so you can take you cart there and add your items to your personal bags. All stores should do this as well if they’re charging for bags.


Pied June 29, 2020 at 1:09 PM

Paying ten cents for a plastic bag is the smallest problem I have. I get to keep the bag and re-use it in the trash cans in my house.


Lambie June 29, 2020 at 1:13 PM

If stores won’t allow me to use my own bag then I shouldn’t be charged for the use of their bags.
Also, they should tell you they are going to charge for using their bags.
I don’t want to pay for bags, so I woul use their cart to transport my groceries to my car, then put them in my bags.


Hanne Jeppesen June 29, 2020 at 1:20 PM

It is 10 cents, it is hardly going to break the bank. Stores have been suffering due to the SIP, so I don’t see it as a big problem. On the other hand I doubt the 10 cent per bag will make a difference in the stores bottom line. Anyway, it is such a small matter I’m just going to go with the flow, and save my outrage for more important things.


WC June 29, 2020 at 1:44 PM

Grocery stores are not suffering. Maybe you read different business periodicals then I do…

Janus June 29, 2020 at 1:46 PM

Please explain the economics of Grocery Stores are hurting to me?

I must be dense because I’m not following your economic logic. Restaurant, until just recently were only doing takeout so the vast majority of meals were being made at home. You buy your food stuffs are grocery stores so I am willing to bet grocery store profits are in fact up, not down.

Sign from Above June 29, 2020 at 3:15 PM

No Hanne, the stores have not been suffering. Actually, they’ve been packed. And, in some cases, charging extra for items in short supply. Have you seen Target’s stock prices since the pandemic?

Pyrrhus June 29, 2020 at 1:21 PM

First off, I’d like to have a source for where contra costa county is re-implementing the $0.10 bag fee. If they haven’t and there really are grocery stores charging for the bags, then that’s just a money grab on them. Regardless, it’s not really a big deal to me. If I feel that strongly, I’ll just have them put it in the cart and I’ll bag it at the car. I do this already at Costco as I don’t want to have more cardboard boxes to throw away.

We have more important things to worry about than a $0.10 fee, like people not wearing their masks or wearing them improperly. The selfishness of the American people is why we are doing so horribly with this pandemic. It’s no wonder why the EU has banned us from traveling there.


Janus June 29, 2020 at 3:38 PM

Newsom’s executive order suspending the use of single use plastic bags was only for 60 days. His order as sunsetted statewide as of today.

AnonZ June 29, 2020 at 1:22 PM

They shouldn’t be charging if you cannot bring your own.


Strad June 29, 2020 at 1:39 PM

I thought the idea of charging for plastic bags was those more durable bags could be reused several times instead of an outright ban on plastic bags.


ON DA June 29, 2020 at 1:40 PM

The Individual “Proprietors set their own policy,” as it should be. After all it is their store you know.


ON DA June 29, 2020 at 1:52 PM

I much prefer the paper bags and took me years to get used to them. Now my brain can not handle the nasty plastic stuff again. There is a huge cost generated in manufacturing bags, both paper and / or plastic. As well as an environmental impact.

Look out for one another, and above all have and show respect to others.


ranchgirl June 29, 2020 at 1:58 PM

Trader Joe’s isn’t charging. If they are going to charge they need to tell you before they start bagging. I’m buying much less these days and tend to just put everything back in the cart and bag myself at my car, since I have plenty of my own in the trunk anyway.


RANDOM TASK June 29, 2020 at 2:02 PM

so can anyone explain to everyone

so you have washed your hands repeatedly ….used sanitizer on your hands and forearms and neck and chin …you have placed your mask on and gloves and your perceived 6 foot radius bubble ……

then you proceed to a public area ……where of course when you get home
you are going to blast yourself with Lysol place your shoes in a bag and re apply sanitizer and wash your clothes before taking a hot shower and using a sanitizing soap ….

all of this and

when you go to this public place
you chastise a person for not wearing a mask

now are you saying that you did not clean yourself enough
or your mask is not doing its job as well as the gloves
or you dont trust your mask or gloves or theirs
or those same people have not scrubbed themselves down as much as you

i mean since every politician has come up with their own interpretation as has doctors and cchealth scammers and who and cdc and the bum down the street ….who also visits that same store your so eloquently are going to

who are you to administer the shoutdown on people about something that is not even a law ….as the same politicians have been releasing these statements as guidelines or suggestions or duties or stern warning

now before we get the oh state or city code this and that ….

mind you bums are strolling through these places just as you do
and those same establishments are not opposing them or hindering them from doing so ….as they have the right to refuse service or entrance into their private business ….but don’t want to be sued for perceived racism or bias or bullying or anti democrat or anything their of to cause rioters to target them

so why blast and chastise and bully and leer and shout at those who are protesting the edict of chosen amended perceived requirements

a simple question ……


Strad June 29, 2020 at 2:27 PM

That’s the nature of social media.

Not Impressed June 29, 2020 at 2:14 PM

Oh get over it already! A whole .10 for a bag big friggin deal, bring your own bags if you want no one can stop you just bag yourself with them which I prefer to do anyway.
You don’t use bags at Costco or Sam’s why use em at a grocery store.
All you complainers crack me up just get over it already.


cheeseburguesa June 29, 2020 at 2:46 PM

“All you complainers crack me up just get over it already.” that’s rich coming from someone who bragged about refusing a temperature check at a grocery store and not being bothered again because you were bigger than the guy asking.

Anon June 29, 2020 at 2:36 PM

I just came back from Lucky’s and I was told that you can bring your own bags but you have to put your groceries in your bags yourself or pay for bags and they will bag your groceries.


S June 29, 2020 at 2:41 PM

Moo banana incognito cartwheels.

(ask as silly question…)


Concordejet June 29, 2020 at 2:43 PM

Some grocery stores let you bring your backpack in
Grocery Outlet dose not allow backpack
Safeway dose
Ranch 99 dose not allow backpack
99 cents store allow backpack
Trader’s joe allow backpack
but, that gonna change sooner or later that no backpacks at all.


Boycott The Circus June 29, 2020 at 2:48 PM

You all can just have the courtesy clerk put your groceries back in the cart and bag them when you get to your car.. it saves you 10 cent a bag, plus your cutting back on plastic use and helping the environment. It’s really simple, I promise!


Janus June 29, 2020 at 3:35 PM

So tell me Boycott the Circus, Newsom signed an executive order suspending for 60 days the state’s voter-approved ban on single-use plastic bags and that order has now sunsetted statewide.

If that was such a good idea 2 months ago, why isn’t it a good idea now? Have covid cased gone down in the 2 month since this order was put into effect or have they gone up?

I assume the idea was to prevent the spread of a contaminant. Now you’re going to have people at the end of the beltway bagging their own groceries, and using their own bags which at least at Knob Hill will be allowed.

Do you really think that after every bagging session grocery store employees are going to stop the line and decontaminate everything for the next customer’s safety? Consistently?

Bluebird June 29, 2020 at 2:57 PM

If we cannot load our groceries into our reusable bags then there should not be a charge to use their bags.

Also, prices have more than doubled on paper products. I prefer to buy paper towels from Safeway. I like the vari a size rolls two in a package. Pre Pandemic, they were $2.99 for the two pack. Yesterday they were $6.99 for the same product. So either they were always on sale or Safeway is charging more than 100% mark up.


Sign from Above June 29, 2020 at 3:08 PM

Brought my bags to the Dekinger Safeway yesterday. The clerk actually tossed them at me and told me I have to bag my own groceries if I wanted to use my bags. They weren’t allowed to touch my bags (hmmm – how did she toss them at me then?) Now I’ve bagged my stuff many times and don’t mind doing so. However, with the way she did it, and the fact that she was just nasty overall, I took my bags and told her “Then why don’t you just bag the stuff up in your bags then.” She did it in a huff!

I really wish we would get some decent competition for Safeway, as Lucky doesn’t do it and Nob Hill is way overpriced.


Natalie June 29, 2020 at 3:15 PM

Some stores will let you use your own bag or backpack provided you don’t place your bag on a counter. If you getting a few items, then it’s not a problem to fill your bag while you hold on to it.

Other stores will let you take a cardboard box instead of a bag. You can ask a staff worker if they have any empty boxes and they will generally let you have one for free.


sideline June 29, 2020 at 3:33 PM

It is ok for people to touch all pre packaged food on the shelves without gloves.
It is ok for the checker to handle the “touched” items (most without gloves)
It is ok for the bagger to handle the touched items (most without gloves)
But we cannot bring our own bags?
Makes absolutely no sense.
Nothing makes sense.
I have my doubts the clowns in charge (governor and health department) have any clue what they are doing.
And we are all just following like sheep. (yep, me included)


Brit June 29, 2020 at 3:49 PM

If you can’t bring and use your own bags then the stores shouldn’t charge you for a bag.


Chicken Little June 29, 2020 at 4:17 PM

They won’t let me bring my own beer, but they still charge me if I buy theirs. What’s up with that?

America June 29, 2020 at 3:54 PM

It is so ridiculous not to let you bring your own bags . The clerk just touched all the food that you touched , so what is the difference if they touch your bag too? And all of this is not protecting anybody anyway. Just like we do for every other virus , wash your hands , stay home if you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes end of virus !!!


burnbabyburn June 29, 2020 at 4:16 PM

I think I will use my “white privilege” and get them for free.


Gittyup June 29, 2020 at 4:26 PM

I hope we never return to bringing our own bags. It’s annoying, inconvenient, they pack them so heavy you can’t lift them, they’re awkward and uncomfortable to carry, the handles are too long, the shape is all wrong. And, how sanitary can they possibly be? Everybody is bring their germs from home into the grocery store.

I would like to see them return to bagging groceries in paper bags. It’s a renewable resource — just grow more trees, degrades in the landfill to pulp or can be recycled into new paper, has to be cheaper than plastic, they’re clean, and can be reused for other things. Enough with all the plastic. If the politically correct thought plastic straws were bad, they should be positively incensed by the number of plastic bags it takes to bag groceries. And they should be a free service, just like having someone bag your groceries used to be.


The Fearless Spectator June 29, 2020 at 10:28 PM

Earth people like to bring their own bags. It’s makes them feel good.

nytemyvr June 29, 2020 at 11:36 PM

@The Fearless Spectator….Crazy Earthlings, they just keep on making it easier for us Venusians to enslave them and for us to take over Earth when the time is right.

Bad Nombre June 29, 2020 at 4:26 PM

You pay for them one way or another but they should not charge more than cost. BTW, one can always bag one’s groceries at the car with self supplied bags.


Mary Fouts June 29, 2020 at 4:34 PM

CAL OSHA Reusable Bag Guidelines: As I posted in the Whatever column earlier, last week Newsom reinstated the CA plastic bag ban law that states stores must charge 10 cents for a paper bag. However, CAL OSHA Grocery Store COVID-10 Guidelines prohibit store employees from touching reusable bags, as follows:

“When customers bring their own bags, employees should be instructed to:
◦ Not touch or place groceries in customer brought bags.
◦ Ask customers to leave their own bags in
the shopping cart.
◦ Ask customers to bag their own groceries.”

So in other words, Newsom thinks that reusable bags are fine to use now, but CAL OSHA considers them dangerous enough that store employees are not to touch them, nor are the bags to leave your cart. Crazy!

DIABLO FOODS: I grocery shopped at Diablo Foods today. They are not allowing reusable bags into the store, and are not charging for paper bags. They have new paper bags, paper about twice as thick as ‘traditional’ paper bags, with seams, in the shape of a large department store bag. Hold about half again as many groceries as traditional paper bags. Heavy duty twine handles. They will make for excellent trash bags/trash can liners.

I purchased 6 bottles of wine today. Clerk placed the bottles into a cloth reusable 6 count wine tote bag. No charge for that, either.

Diablo Foods is just the BEST for groceries and customer service! Got there about 2 PM today, took maybe 10 minutes to get into the store. Store fully stocked, minus a couple of pastas.


TinKnocker June 29, 2020 at 7:05 PM

Lucky told me today I can bring my own bags, but have to bag groceries myself or pay 10 cents per paper bag for them to bag.


Tim June 29, 2020 at 8:31 PM

Can’t have it both ways. This is nuts.


Kara June 30, 2020 at 8:02 AM

If customers are still prohibited from bringing their own bags- even if we’re willing to bag our own (which I’m more than happy to do)- then stores should provide bags AT NO CHARGE. I shouldn’t have to pack my own groceries AFTER reaching my car!


anonares June 30, 2020 at 9:32 AM

Plastic bags are an environmental mistake. I have never liked them. I still can’t understand the problem with paper bags. They don’t need the stores logo printed on them. Is the garbage patch in the Pacific, full of paper? I have no problem paying for paper. Please give us a better choice. Paper contains the items in an upright position for the drive home and plastic doesn’t.


Cowellian June 30, 2020 at 9:45 AM

I accept that you don’t like plastic bags, but many of us do. Plastic bags have handles, they don’t fall apart when wet, and are more easily reusable.

Cowellian June 30, 2020 at 10:21 AM

* Your mileage may vary

Gittyup June 30, 2020 at 10:09 AM

Handles give you torn rotator cuffs and is not the proper way to carry a bag of groceries, especially for those with back and shoulder problems. Paper is biodegradable. Better for the environment. Plastic isn’t. Seal and sea lions, dolphins, other large fish, and whales get tangled in it, ingest it, and die. Plastic is evil.


Hanne Jeppesen June 30, 2020 at 11:46 AM

GittyUp, It was bound to happen, we agree on something. Since I’m an animal lover and I especially love seal’s and dolphins, I totally agree with you about plastic bag.

Kevin June 30, 2020 at 11:39 AM

Ha! Ca…what a joke!


FPN June 30, 2020 at 12:32 PM

Safeway on Willow Pass charges for bags. My least favorite safeway for reasons besides bags.


JustMe June 30, 2020 at 3:52 PM

Just say ‘no’ and place the items in the cart. You don’t have to pay for a bag if you don’t want the bag.

The store where I shop hasn’t been charging for bags– at least yet.

That being said, I wonder if they’re going back to the harder re-usable type of plastic bags. For the past few months, they using the old style thin plastic bags when they weren’t charging.


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