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Pardes Yehuda: Will LA City Council ban plastic bags?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will LA City Council ban plastic bags?

Shoppers of Whole Foods Markets are already used to this trend, but now the city of Los Angeles is taking action--and good thing. When people refer to 'plastic bags,' we are talking about polyethylene bags, a petroleum product. These plastics are made from the same oil as our gasoline and add substantially to worldwide pollution and waste.

The LA Times reports that the City Council of Los Angeles voted today to ban plastic carryout bags in the city's supermarkets and stores by July 2010, if the State of California fails to impose legislation requiring a $.25 fee on each bag requested from a store or market. The city hopes to reduce the number of plastic bags in LA by 30% by 2010.

Estimates say that almost 400 billion plastic mags are manufactured for use in the United States each year, 100 billion are thrown away. The fact of the matter is that plastic bags, while a nuisance and a danger to birds and sea life, are incredibly useful and practical. They are lightweight, compact and reusable--in other words, shipping and producing them is relatively easy. However we all need to be more responsible with how we use our plastic bags.

The simplest way to more responsibly use plastic bags is to use them as sparingly as possible. The most successful and sustainable form of recycling is reusing. By reusing we reduce waste and keep harmful product out of landfills. Plastic bags are great to take to the market to bring home your local fruits, veggies and flowers; they are handy trash bags for small bins and can even be used to dump organic kitchen waste to your backyard compost bin or heap, and then wash the bag and use it again. I just used a number of plastic bags to bundle clothes to donate. There uses are endless, and with so many billions of them being made all the time, isn't it time to stop using and producing new ones? The other way to help get rid of some of these bags is to buy reusable bags that are more durable and made of recycled plastic and/or glass or use baskets.

The LA City Council is taking a positive step to create a serious reduction in the amount of plastic bags in just two years. Regulating citywide business, in this regard, is not a solution. However, the statement to actively reduce the use of plastic bags by a substantial amount in a relatively short amount of time is a good model and sends a positive message.

Thank you, people of Los Angeles, for beginning to reduce plastic bags in our city.


Anonymous said...

what about paper bags? Sure they can be recycled, but with regards to your post about our use of paper and the fact that they are heavier than plastic bags (thus using more fuel to have to transport), is Whole Foods just having one on us?

Anonymous said...

The fact that paper is heavier does mean higher shipping costs, but the fact that brown paper is bio-degradable, recyclable and reusable, that is seriously significant. Plus, brown paper bags are 100% post consumer recycled product, meaning they are less damning on the forests. Since they decompose so fast, they are not damaging on our landfills. Heck, I even have some in my compost bin!