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Paper or…? Plastic Bags Get Thrown Out in L.A.

Paper or…? Plastic Bags Get Thrown Out in L.A.

Some will call it an environmental victory for landfills and waterways; others will call it a perilous step towards a nanny state. Wherever you may stand on the issue, there is no denying that within a few months plastic bags will be pretty hard to come by in Los Angeles. The city of Angels has become the latest of other smaller California cites, including San Jose, Long Beach and San Francisco, to ban the practice of handing out plastic bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. This reframes reusable bags as more than just a trendy environmental statement, and something closer to a necessity.

An estimated 12 billion plastic bags are used each year by Californians alone, and less than 5% of those bags are ever recycled. This leaves a long film of plastic detritus all over California streets, parks, waterways, and shores. So while this probably should have been something enacted years ago, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 16 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, meaning shoppers will need to bring reusable bags or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each. This makes it the nations largest city to adopt a no plastic policy, which can only mean sweeping, but maybe not swift, changes in city policies and their rejection of plastic. Five years ago San Francisco approved the states first plastic bag ban, with much fanfare and lasting success.

While most on the city council, as well as many LA residents, will show support for the ban, some will obviously bristle and reject such a ban. There was a significant lobby by employees of plastic bag companies wanting to save their jobs (along with those who hold a controlling interest in such companies) to not enact such a ban and impose a greater recycling effort. Needless to say, a ban was seen as preferable to an unreliable recycling effort.

What is your feeling about an out and out ban on plastic bags? Is it too draconian, or not enough to insure environmental health? Is there a less drastic measure that could be taken to address environmental concerns and maintain jobs? What should be banned next?

Read more: Blogs, Eco-friendly tips, Environment, Following Food, Green, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Apptit among other publications.


+ add your own
8:55AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

While people are so busy getting rid of plastic bags they forget the many uses of them before you dump them in a landfill. The first obvious one is using them for garbage bags. Next, wrap meats etc that you want frozen in a plastic bag and it works just as well as saran wrap. When you are mailing a oarcel instead of using newspaper to tuck it in tight,use plastic bags to wrap everything snug. Unfortunately it's the ones who are lazy or who plain just care to look for uses for their plastic bags.

4:56PM PST on Mar 7, 2013

awesome! wish my city would!

11:24AM PST on Mar 6, 2013


9:57PM PST on Mar 3, 2013

plastic bags are recyclable yet the centers say NOT to put them in there. I've been to towns where they use the bags to make park benches and other outside furniture.

I however no longer use plastic bags and bring my own stash of reusable bags. Hope this is a move the whole country will take and possibly the whole world.

12:36AM PST on Nov 21, 2012


6:11PM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

Yay for LA!! Now let this go viral and plastic bags become a thing of the past!!
I have used strong canvas bags for the past decade and take them everywhere I shop! They are easier to carry, earth friendly, washable and sturdier! Also, they don't hurt when carried!!!

7:15AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

its a great idea and should be implemented everywhere. having e.g. "no plastic bag" saturdays makes people remember to either bring their own bags or having to carry their stuff to the car. admittedly we all got used to free plastic bags and balk at having to pay for it sometimes. its a tough but more effective way of educating people to be more environmentally friendly. the ones against the ban are usually producers of plastic bags. they should resort to more biodegradable products instead. even paper bags should be made from recycled paper, not chopping down more trees.

6:52AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

Good to hear!

3:22PM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

Way to go L.A. Just back from Adelaide, Australia and they are banned there, but I didn't hear any whiners. They just take their bags like a lot of us do and find they work much better than plastic. Can't stand lazy whiners. They had some of the neatest zippered insulated bags there for $2.00. in all the grocery stores I bought several for my family and they were happy to get them.

10:36PM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

ここの少女は最も美しい青春に、その回のgucciの財布との相を避けることができなく恋します!グッチ 財布がなければいけないでGUCCI 財布新作が待望の登場!重点となっているグッチ 長財布は超人気!!gucciを持っていて散歩しに行って、これは夏にあまりにも完璧であったことに就きます!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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