It’s here, the California plastic bag ban is going into effect! Now on to phase two: encouraging people to remember their reusable bags. Many stores have already implemented the plastic checkout bag ban and it has caught some shoppers by surprise.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Remember your bags. When Surfrider hands out reusable bags at stores, one of the most common things volunteers hear is, “I left my bags at home” or “I left my bags in the car”. There is a ten cent fee on paper bags now, partly as an incentive to remember your bags.
2. Return the bags to your car or a handy place where you will easily remember them the next time you go shopping. If you forget your bags or go shopping unplanned, you can typically put the items back in your cart then car or carry the items out if you just bought one or two things.
3. Dog lovers still have plenty of plastic bag options. Bread bags, produce bags, cereal bags, newspaper bags, and many other bags are still available.
4. Have patience with cashiers. The statewide law for California was scheduled to go into effect back in July 2015 with advance notice while the referendum process calls for it to go into effect immediately which has caught some people off guard.
5. Plastic bags for produce and meat are not banned so you can still use them for your fruits, veggies and meat if necessary.
6. Wash your bags. Just like you wash your clothes, wash your bags when needed. No need for extra loads of laundry, you can usually fit them in with other loads.
California SB 270 is the law passed in 2014 that voters recently approved in 2016 through the referendum process. SB 270 is a ban on thin plastic checkout bags at grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, liquor stores and similar retailers.
SB 270 also calls for a mandatory minimum fee of ten cents for a paper bag or reusable bags, partly as an incentive to remember the reusable bags you already have. While we prefer cloth bags made from organic or reused material, SB 270 allows for thicker reusable bags that meet certain criteria.
Plastic bags are the tip of the plastic pollution iceberg but something with an easy solution in reusable bags. Choose to reuse and remember your bags. This is a major step toward sending less plastic to the ocean but more needs to be done. Please become a Surfrider member and connect with your local chapter to be part of the plastic pollution solution.