Getting hooked on plastic bag bans

I’ve railed against plastic bags before in this space, so it was with glee that I read the Los Angeles Times today (legacy edition with black coffee and oatmeal) to find the Santa Monica City Council voted to ban them, beginning in September. Oh, and that vote was unanimous.

How many plastic bags do the good citizens of this beach city use in a year, you rightly ask? The advocacy group Heal the Bay estimates the number in excess of 25 million.

LA Public Works removing debris caught by booms from the L.A. River after a storm event. (Courtesy Algalita Marine Research Foundation)

According to the piece, Heal the Bay began pushing the issue two years ago, which stalled amid industry threats of a lawsuit. After the city’s environmental review of the proposed ordinance, the language was softened to include reusable polyethylene bags. These bags, according to an L.A. County environmental study, are stronger than single-use bags, and can be wiped clean, a good start for using them over again, instead of tossing in the garbage.

That pleased the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which praised the changes.

And, stores will now be able to charge a dime per paper bag within city limits. To avoid fees, just bring your own.

So far, single-use bag bans have been approved in :

— Los Angeles County

— Marin County

— San Jose

Next week, Calabasas considers whether it wants to join the growing movement.

Anyway, if you’re reading this at work, take a peek at a preview for “Plastic Planet,” a new doc from Europe.  I’m wary of “shock-jock docs,” which seem so evenly reported, but many times stack the deck a la the later works of Michael Moore. Admittedly, I’ve only watched the trailer, but will rent it.

See you on the (cleaner) river, Jim Burns

2 thoughts on “Getting hooked on plastic bag bans”

  1. Nice post. I would really like to see this sweep the nation. Besides the environmental effects of the plastic bags, I just find the darn things annoying. We donate ours back to our local Salvation Army, or drop them off at recycling bins made just for such bags.. If they have to be used, at least take proper steps with them afterwards and not just throw them around!

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Great idea to donate to the Salvation Army. From most of the responses to this post, I get the feeling that people are fed up with bags, and are taking solutions — governmental or personal — to change course.

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