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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City's Goodwill store is located at 2821 South Ten Mile Drive. Photo by Mikala Compton / News Tribune.

MERS Goodwill is going green to start the new year when the organization stops offering single-use plastic bags to customers Jan. 1.

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, MERS Goodwill said it will discontinue the use of plastic bags in an effort to help the environment. Single-use plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, MERS Goodwill said in the news release.

"It feels good to know that we are doing our part in helping the environment,"CEO David Kutchback said. "The decision to go bag-less and reusing items in the store continues to support our dedication to environmentally sound practices and our overall mission."

Customers will be able to buy a reusable Goodwill tote bag for $1. MERS Goodwill estimated the change will stop more than 3 million plastic bags from entering landfills per year.

Most plastic bags are made from high-density polyethylene or low-density polyethylene, but are notoriously hard to recycle. Most curb-side recycling systems including Jefferson City's do not accept plastic bags.

Some stores, including several around Mid-Missouri, offer places for people to drop off plastic bags for recycling, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. If plastic bags find their way into streams, rivers and oceans they can break down into smaller toxic pieces and harm wildlife.

MERS Goodwill operates 75 locations in 89 counties and serves 50,000 people in Missouri and southern Illinois. The organization's Jefferson City store sits at 2821 S. Ten Mile Drive.

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