The City of Los Angeles took a big step today in becoming the largest city in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores. The City Council voted 13-1 to phase out the bags. The bags will be phased out over 6 to 12 months, and a ten cent per bag fee will be charged for paper bags. An estimated 2.3 billion bags, made with petroleum products, are used in Los Angeles every year. They’re a horrible nuisance when they get stuck in oak trees, and they’re deadly to sea critters’ intestines.
At a rally this morning just before the City Council meeting, speakers touted the value of responsible environmental stewardship, the horrendous toll taken on marine life, the jobs created by manufacturing reusable bags, and the City’s desire to fund education and parks rather than street cleaning. Paul Koretz, the author of the ordinance (shown in photo), successfully fended off efforts to water down the bill by long time friends-turned-lobbyists. The rally was well attended by environmental and labor groups.
A patchwork of over 45 cities and counties, including unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, already ban the bag. A statewide ban, authored by environmental champion Julia Brownley (AD-41), nearly passed the state legislature last year but narrowly failed when
donations from plastic bag manufacturers magically appeared in the reelection funds of a few wavering legislators the legislature gave due consideration to all issues. Brownley has indicated that she was waiting on the outcome of the Los Angeles vote. The bill has been revised a little, and should be passed this summer if all goes well.
Consumers have been accustomed to thinking of single use plastic bags as a convenience. They’re not. Rather, they’re an unnecessary use of oil, a hidden cost for grocers and consumers, and ultimately a hazard to marine life. My reusable cloth bags sit in my car next to my grocery store coupons, and both are used upon every trip to the market. I hope to see California follow Los Angeles’ lead.