CHICAGO (CBS) — Some news you can use on this Earth Day for the all-important chore of grocery shopping.
First, health experts said to wipe down your purchases and bags. Next, reusable bags were banned. Then environmentally-friendly totes became okay, but some store associates weren’t allowed to touch them, leaving those shoppers to bag their own groceries.
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What’s the deal now? CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory sorts it out.
Plastic bags made a bit of comeback during the pandemic. For several months, using an environmentally friendly reusable tote for groceries wasn’t allowed in most Illinois stores.
“No reusable bags” was part of the plea for retail worker protections in April 2020. Local 881, the Illinois and Northwest Indiana chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers that represents 34,000 retail, food and drug store employees, was successful.
By the end of that month, “discontinue use of reusable bags” made it into Governor J.B. Pritzker’s executive order setting rules for how grocery stores and other essential businesses would have to operate.
Pablo Naval recalled that span without his handy grocery transport gear while shopping at Trader Joe’s.
“They gave us free bags. So, they provided that for us, which you didn’t have to bring anything if you didn’t want,” Naval said.
By October, Illinois left the decision about bags up to stores, but the rules varied depending on where you lived.
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A Mariano’s store in Evergreen Park might have said allowed reusable bags then, but baggers at a Mariano’s in Chicago were explicitly not allowed to touch reusable totes. Shoppers that brought their own gear needed to bag purchases themselves. The city lifted that policy in the past few weeks.
CBS 2 discovered another recent revision at Meijer: everyone can now bring their own grocery bags.
The chain previously said no to reusable bags, unless a customer was using Shop and Scan technology which works like a self- checkout.
Back in Chicago, another tweak: the dreaded bag tax is back.
Francis Regacho was shopping at home in California with a bag tax in place, and returned to Chicago in time for the return of our bag tax.
“It’s annoying at first, but once you start like carrying around a reusable bag with you, you barely notice it,” he said.
Places like Jewel-Osco reinstated a 7-cent fee in March, but had been eating the cost of the city’s bag tax and waiving it for customers earlier in the pandemic.
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So many changes. So what’s the bag rule now? Nothing is in place from the state of Illinois or city of Chicago. Shop as you please, but you still have to wear a mask in public in Illinois.