This past Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, was a pretty historic day for California. The voters of California, among other things, legalized recreational marijuana, made vaccines mandatory for virtually every child in California, enacted a mandatory background check to buy ammunition, and in voting "Yes"on Proposition 67, effectively banned single use plastic bags!
Marijuana, vaccines and ammo. We can see the pros and cons of all of the new laws regarding these three. But banning plastic bags? Our opinion is that while there will be some growing pains in the beginning, there are only good things to come of this.
This new law is meant to prevent single use plastic bags from ending up in the ocean or in landfills. Sea turtles, sea otters, sea birds and fish get tangled in the bags and either die or grow deformed. And plastic bags are serial killers - it is said that they are the most common man made waste seen in the ocean. While floating in the water they look a lot like jellyfish, something that turtles like to eat. A turtle that eats a plastic bag eventually dies, and quickly decomposes. The decomposing flesh brings other hungry creatures who then ingest the plastic bag. This can happen many times before the bag breaks down. Incidentally, most of these plastic shopping bags are made of polyethylene, which doesn't actually biodegrade. While it does break down into smaller and smaller particles, science has not yet determined what happens to the particles - do they ever break down completely, or do they end up concentrating in our environment and potentially bleeding into our food system?
Notably - all plastic bags weren't banned by, only the single use plastic bags offered at the checkout counter of grocery, pharmacy, convenience and liquor stores. Single use bags for meat, produce, bread, bulk foods and perishable items are still allowed. As well, stores are allowed to sell thicker, multi-use, recycled plastic bags for a small fee (usually 10 cents). The bill provided $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers for the purpose of helping them retain jobs and transition to making the new bags.
And the icing on the cake? The fee stores charge for the new bags is intended to allocate revenue generated from the sale of disposable carryout bags, specifically paper bags, to the Wildlife Conservation Fund. We definitely support this!
The bag ban went into effect the day after the election, Nov. 9 2016, and to our surprise our local stores were ready with their new thicker, multi-use recycled plastic bags. We like them - they are a lot larger than the single use bags. They hold more than double the amount of merchandise the smaller bags do, and they are much more comfortable to carry.
What are your thoughts on the new California Plastic Bag Ban? Yea or nay, and why? We'd LOVE to hear your feedback!
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