Aspen prides itself on being No. 1, especially when it comes to money. Whether it’s a single-family home, a lift ticket, or even a cheeseburger, Aspen is always in the running for having the most expensive something somewhere. It’s a big part of what makes Aspen the unique place it is.
Over the years, Aspen has been so successful at being the most expensive at so many things, some would even say it’s a dynasty. But it’s not easy being No. 1. You’re a target to be knocked down. The assaults come from every angle and it is a constant struggle to stay on top. Somebody somewhere always has Aspen in their sights and a new challenger is always lurking in an attempt to supplant Silver City. Not surprisingly, there is a power-grab happening right now and if folks don’t act fast Aspen is soon to be second.
Several months ago, Aspen aggressively assumed another mantle of being most expensive. Following the actions of its City Council, Aspen approved a 20-cent charge on paper bags associated with its ban on single-use plastic bags. Although the bag ban may have meant much for the environment, it did more for Aspen’s reputation by making it the town with the most expensive paper bag in the country, related to plastic bag bans.
However, the wannabees in Carbondale were not about to let Aspen have the environmental limelight and stepped in to steal some upvalley thunder. Bonedalers jumped on Aspen’s high-priced “banned” wagon and implemented their own bag ban, which also charges a hefty 20 cents per paper bag. And since those fees went into effect on May 1, I do believe Aspen and Carbondale have been tied for having the most expensive paper bag associated with a plastic bag ban in America.
Other than Colorado, most communities that have bag bans are somewhere out on the Pacific Ocean. From Alaska to Hawaii and from Los Angeles to Bellingham, Wash., bans on plastic bags have been extremely popular and widespread all along our western waters. The cost for a paper bag up and down the coast is usually between 5 and 10 cents in towns that have plastic bag bans.
In San Francisco, the pioneer city that first banned plastic bags back in 2007, a paper grocery bag costs a dime. And for the most part, that’s how it is in the Golden Bear state. From L.A. all the way up the cost to San Fran, plastic bag bans are in place and a paper bag costs a dime. Santa Clara County seems to be an exception, charging 15 cents per paper sack.
North of California in the Pacific Northwest, paper bag fees are a little less pricey. In Washington state, the going rate is a nickel per paper bag. That holds true even in Seattle, home to billionaire Bill Gates and many other wealthy luminaries. It holds true for Oregon as well. Maybe bags are so cheap up there because they are closer to the trees.
Outside of the Pacific Rim, Brownsville, Texas, also is known for having an aggressive ban on plastic bags. In Brownsville, they charge $1 for certain non-reusable sacks. These bags can be made of paper, plastic or any number of other materials. But unlike in Aspen and Carbondale, folks in Brownsville can still get a free paper bag at the grocery store as long as it is deemed “reusable” by law. By reusable Brownsville means thick and with handles. In Aspen and Carbondale, there’s no such thing as a free lunch sack.
Come Jan. 1, Aspen and Carbondale will no longer hold title to the most expensive brown paper bag in America. On that day Monterey, Calif., will up its cost of brown paper bags associated with its ban on plastic bags to 25 cents.
But Monterey’s dominance won’t last long either. As Aspen sits stuck at 20 cents per paper sack, communities up and down the coast of California will raise their fees for paper bags to 25 cents in the ensuing months. Aspen and Carbondale will soon go from first, to second, to somewhere forgotten.
Aspen cannot sit idly by and let its reputation be tarnished. Aspen needs to lead by example and up its price for paper bags immediately. It needs to be the most expensive, and to establish dominance Aspen should crush the competition by charging a record $1 per paper bag. Welcome to Aspen, now give us your money.
Carbondale shouldn’t even try to compete. If people must pay for paper bags in Carbondale they should be charged a nickel and not 20 cents. Who does Carbondale think it is? No wonder reports are surfacing about people stealing the plastic baskets from City Market in Carbondale instead of paying for bags. Carbondale is not Aspen. Bonedalers can’t keep up with the Joneses of Aspen.
If Aspen does not act immediately and raise the price of its paper bags, it will be a huge blow to the town. Aspen is all about being the most expensive. And with Aspen being such an environmentally conscious community, losing title to the most expensive paper bag in America could really tarnish its reputation among the green elite. For Aspen, it is a time to lead and not follow.
Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org.