This week California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. The governor signed a bill that prohibits large grocery stores starting in July 2015 and smaller stores and pharmacies one year later, from giving customers single use plastic bags for free to carry their purchases.
Consumers will have to take their own paper or reusable plastic bags to the store, or pay retailers no less then .10 cents to purchase a reusable plastic or paper bag.
The governor says this law will reduce “the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself.”
Banning plastic bags has become one of the chief concerns of environmentalists, who have succeeded in getting numerous cities and counties across the state to adopt their own bans.
While the new state measure will make the requirement uniform across the state and help clean our waterways, it would be disingenuous to say there is no downside. We should not forget that the law will also create a financial hardship for some of the state’s lower-income residents.
We hope the next step is not banning plastic bags altogether.
Like it or not, plastic bags do have some good uses, such as allowing Californians to transport chicken and turkey that can carry salmonella in a safer, less contaminated way.
Dog owners in many less affluent areas use single use plastic bags to collect their pets’ feces in a way that doesn’t spread disease.
To many, .10 cents is hardly a budget-busting amount, but for others the cost may keep them from using the .10 cent bag for clean up purposes.
We aren’t against the ban of plastic bags, but hope we don’t start to see more paper bags and reusable plastic bags littering the horizon.