I celebrate every gift I get. This one is a biggie. I believe Berkeley, CA was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. San Francisco followed. Coastal North Carolina did the same. Now, Seattle follows Bellingham, WA but their ban does more.
The Seattle City Council passed a broad ban on plastic bags Monday, outlawing them not just in grocery stores, but in department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home-improvement stores, food trucks and farmers markets.
The bill goes further than bans in other cities, which have largely banished plastic only groceries and sometimes drug stores. Customers in Seattle will still be able to get paper bags from retailers, but for a 5-cent fee.
Monday’s bill exempts customers on food assistance and other government benefits from the bag fee. The city will also make free or reduced-cost reusable bags available to poor people.
The ordinance applies only to single-use, checkout bags, and not to produce, bulk-ban and dry-cleaning bags. Plastic bags for take-out restaurant food are also still allowed, because they help protect health and safety while transporting hot food and liquid.
I shop with my own bags and my little grocery store, Sierra Hills Market, will reward you with a $25 gift certificate, for using your own shopping bag. People who use their own bags are allowed to mark their name and phone number on a small paper by the checkstand and put it in the draw box. I’ve won the certificate, once. I regularly see about four others using their own bags.
A chain grocer in nearby Angels Camp tried the “recycle” your plastic bags idea. The container was always stuffed full of plastic bags and was emptied regularly in the dumpster. The bags are cheaply made, tear easily, don’t hold much and the only person I ever saw taking recycled bags on their way into the grocery store was-ME. It just doesn’t change habits.
“A study a few years ago “found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.”
So, I celebrate it as a gift to our common environment. I’ve seen pictures of animals entrapped and dying from plastic bags drifting into their environment. And, just a reminder, there is a huge glob of plastic bags the size of the state of Texas in the ocean vortex where water circulates and keeps miles of plastic afloat. Other countries have banned bags in some cities. Mexico City, twelve towns in Australia, Rangoon, Burma, Five major cities in India, London, Rawanda, the whole country is bag free.
It seems to me this is an opportunity for college students across the country to collectively push for plastic bag bans in their communities. Hey, they know how to solve the deficit. Over and again, they have proved to be smarter, and more effective than our do nothing government.