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July 19, 2013

Banning the Plastic Bag in California

Recent State Ban Failed to Pass but Cities Show Initiative.
Plastic bottles and bags after a heavy rain in south San Diego County

One of the most common types of trash that can be seen floating in the tidal zone while enjoying the ocean is plastic bags.  Besides discarded cigarette butts and plastic bottles, they are one of the most common pieces of solid waste that pollute our local waters and beaches.  Many cities, including Los Angeles, have taken the initiative to ban plastic bags or implement some sort of tax on using plastic bags.  A recent article in the New York Times takes a look at banning the plastic bag in New York and through out the nation.

“Many countries and a handful of American cities have more or less done away with this supposed convenience item, by discouraging its use through plastic-bag taxes at checkout counters or outright bans. Walk down the streets of Dublin or Seattle or San Francisco and there is barely a bag in sight. Life continues.”  The trend is catching on here in California even though a recent bill in the California Senate, SB 405, failed in Sacramento by three votes.  Both San Francisco and Los Angeles both have plastic bag bans, as well as numerous smaller municipalities through out the state.  Certain cities, such as Washington D.C. have implemented a small tax in order to incentivize consumers to bring their own bag.  In Dublin, Ireland, the tax is up 30 cents per bag and some think the tax should be higher in Washington D.C.

Plastics and single use, disposable items are a huge problem for our local environment and coastal ecosystems worldwide.  You would be hard pressed to find a beach in the world without some hint of plastic pollution.  As mentioned before, the statewide plastic bag ban is tabled for now, but we can make strides in reducing plastic pollution as other cities have.  San Diego should join San Francisco, Los Angeles, Solana Beach and numerous other cities and municipalities through out the state and world in banning the plastic bag.  Reducing the use of single use plastics, as well as incorporating environmental education components, will be extremely beneficial to our local beaches, coastal ecosystems and ecological health of our region. 


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For more information contact John Holder,