California first banned single-use plastic bags in 2014. Proposition 67 meant that grocery stores, liquor store, convenience stores, and pharmacies would be prohibited from providing single-use carryout bags. It did allow plastic bags to be used for bulk food or other perishable items, such as bread or meat. The plastic bags that would be given out to shoppers would cost 10 cents and the revenue for them would go to educating consumers and cover the costs of non-plastic bags.
There have been numerous attempts by plastic bag companies from South Carolina, Texas, and New Jersey to overturn this ban, but fortunately, Californians have voted to protect the state’s single-use plastic bag ban.
The referendum was held on November 8th, during which 52% of the voters have expressed their desire to keep the ban on single-use plastic bags. This decision will dramatically decrease the use of plastic bags that Californians use, even though they still throw away a whopping 14 billion of them every single year.
Why are plastic bags so bad for the environment? Because, being made from polyethylene, which is derived from natural gas that has been extracted along with petroleum, they take centuries to decompose. Another major reason that appeals to the vast majority of surfers is that plastic bags cause marine life the most damage. Dolphin, turtles and fish mistake plastic bags for food and choke on them. Also, reducing amount of plastic bags that end up in the ocean also reduces the costs of clean-up. According to the prop’s official website, Yes on 67:
“Recent studies have identified more than $400 million in local government spending to clean up litter and prevent it from reaching waterways. Plastic bags represent a disproportionate and highly visible source of litter because they blow from trash cans, garbage trucks and landfills, lodge in trees, and wash into storm drains. They also clog and damage recycling equipment. The City of San Jose estimated an annual loss of $1 million each year due to plastic bag-related repairs in its facilities. San Francisco and Sacramento report similar costly plastic bag related shut downs.” A win-win for everybody!
A step in the right direction for taking care of our oceans, wildlife and ourselves is to keep the ban on plastic bags. California is going in the right direction!
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