Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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Reusable bags: Safe to use during the pandemic – bring yours to these grocery stores in Clark County

Green Neighbors Reusable Bag

Reusable bags do not increase risk of COVID-19 transmission  

The initial confusion and unknown elements of how COVID-19 spreads between people led to a rise in the presence of disposable, single-use items: plastic bags, paper coffee cups and takeout containers to name a few. This was understandable in the early stages of the pandemic since scientists couldn't say with certainty that items like reusable bags brought into grocery stores wouldn't be a vector of transmission for the virus. There is now reason enough to believe that reusable items, when used hygienically, do not represent an increase in the risk of transmission.

In June, a consortium of 119 public health experts including epidemiologists and virologists responded to the troubling rise in plastic use and disposable items by releasing a statement saying:

"Based on the best available science and guidance from public health professionals, it is clear that reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene."

Health Expert Statement Addressing Safety of Reusables and COVID-19

The experts go on to detail best practices for making use of reusable items during the pandemic and outline why reusable alternatives to single-use disposables do not represent a signifigant risk for the transmission of COVID-19.

Despite limiting reusable bags earlier in the pandemic many Clark County grocery stores are again allowing customers to bring their own bags with a couple caveats:

  • Bag items themselves
  • Avoid putting reusable bags on any surface that other customers or workers may touch directly

Staying safe and sustainable  

In an article for the Huffington Post, food safety expert Jeff Nelken said that to be safe reusable grocery bags should be cleaned after every time you use them. In the age of the coronavirus, this is even more pertinent than before. Luckily, he said, it's very easy to do.

If you have disinfectant wipes on hand, Nelken said, you can use them to give your bags a good wipe down — but make sure they contain disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, and to be sure to follow the instructions on the label. 


Grocery stores allowing reusable bags 

This is not an exhaustive list of grocers in the county, but please be aware that these protocols may change without notice.

Albertsons
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Chucks
  • Chucks prefers that customers don't bring bags into store, but they are allowing it
  • Customers bringing in their own reusable bag must bag their own items while the bag is in the cart
  • The bag cannot go on the belt
Costco
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Fred Meyer
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Grocery Outlet
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Natural Grocers
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
New Seasons Market
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
QFC
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Safeway
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Target
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Trader Joe's
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
  • There is a table outside where customers can bag up their own items 
Walmart
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
WinCo
  • Customers can use own bag
  • Customers must bag items themselves
Green Business Spotlight: Barnick Chiropractic
Reducing Food Waste During the Pandemic

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How can I protect myself from the Coronavirus?

Wash your hands

Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against coronaviruses, including COVID-19. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Learn more about the Coronavirus