California voters passed Senate Bill 270 in November 2016 to ban plastic bags from distribution in stores and ultimately to reduce the quantity of plastic bags in our waste stream — a victory for prevention-minded individuals and organizations!
As with most legislation, implementation takes some adjustment. Since the November election, many stores have made the necessary changes to comply with the new law: removing the ready-to-load plastic bag rack at the checkout counter, replacing carry-out bags with paper, displaying signage encouraging customers to bring their own bags, and training check-out clerks to notify shoppers that bags at their counter are available for a 10-cent charge.
However, some establishments have not complied and do not inform customers that the bags they supply cost ten cents, and do not encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.
Some of the big box stores have found a loophole that allows them to provide a “reusable” bag made of thicker plastic. While this is technically in compliance, it does not support the law’s intent to reduce the amount of plastic in our waste stream, ultimately polluting our beautiful coastline.
An initial study conducted by three Humboldt State Engineering students for Zero Waste Humboldt in spring of 2017 indicates that California’s Single-Use Carryout Bag Ban has begun to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags. However, there is still much work to be done. If you are passionate about the quality of our marine ecosystems, you understand that all plastic is a problem for wildlife and our environment.
So, what can you do about the problem?
BYOB! Bring Your Own Bag!
Extra points for using locally-made bags and using reusable produce bags!
Support Businesses That Are In Compliance!
If you see any type of plastic bag at the checkout counter, take your money elsewhere! This could be an effective way to send a message to establishments that are not yet complying.
Spread Good Examples!
Send your other eco-concious friends and also Zero Waste Humboldt a cellphone photo of good examples of stores in compliance. This will help spread support for stores in compliance.
If you see stores that still have single-use plastic bags or “reusable” thick plastic bags, or do not inform customers that the bags they give out at the counter cost ten cents, ask them when they plan to implement the new single-use carryout bag ban law.
No need for confrontation, simply inquire when they will begin to reduce plastics, and offer the Zero Waste Humboldt email for information and assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org.