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This Week in Green – Nov. 22, 2010

Ban on Plastic Bags Gains Steam in California

The movement to ban stores from using single-use plastic bags gained another community this week as parts of Los Angeles County joined the ban.

While the measure will go into effect next year only in parts of unincorporated LA and not the city proper, the vote was cheered by environmentalists.

“The cost of convenience can no longer be at the cost of the environment for centuries to come,” said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, which advocates for clean water.

“This is just the beginning of a wave of bans against single-use plastic bags across California,” said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, (D) of Santa Monica. Brownley unsuccessfully tried to get a statewide ban passed this summer.

According to Gina Goodhill, an Ocean’s Advocate for Environment California, plastic kills 267 species a year. The average person in the U.S. uses between 300-700 plastic bags a year. Globally, we burn through 500,000 billion – yes, a half a trillion – plastic bags every year. Only a fraction of those bags are recycled and most will take hundreds of years to decompose.
The measure in LA County will prevent stores from dispensing single-use bags. As part of the ban, it will require stores to charge 10 cents for each paper bag, thus promoting reusable bags.

Shoppers might want to avoid the cheap, colorful reusable bags many stores sell at their registers after the a New York Times report this week that many contain lead. For more information on quality reusable bags, and where to find them: