California’s Plastic Bag Ban and California’s Health Crisis

Lassen Manzanita Lake – By Smack (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Several articles have been recently published suggesting a potential link between California’s Plastic Bag Ban (Proposition 67) and the Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless populations in California where more than a dozen have died and more than 400 have contracted the disease. The articles are as follows:

While the above articles do not provide conclusive proof of a causal connection between the plastic bag ban and the Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless in California, the articles do document a link between the once plentiful plastic bags and hygiene and sanitation issues associated with the homeless.  Hygiene and sanitation issues also associated with the Hepatitis A outbreak. Rather than summarize the above articles herein; the reader is urged to read the above listed articles instead.

One notable quote from the article Plastic-bag ban led to a hep A health crisis? by Marty Graham is as follows:

Plenty of people discounted the plastic-bag theory but San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten was not one of them. “Yes, absolutely, we know people use the bags for that,” she said. “We know people don’t have bathrooms and they can put bags in cans and buckets and maintain good hygiene. That’s why we put plastic bags in the hygiene kits we’re handing out. That’s what we expect people will use them for.” (Graham, 2017)

The above articles demonstrate that California’s bag bans are responsible for exacerbating hygiene issues for those living on the streets or in homeless encampments.

In a previously posted article, entitled “Bacterial and Viral Health Hazards of Reusable Shopping Bags”, the author identifies the health hazards with the use of reusable shopping bags to the public and the homeless. For example, reusable bags must be maintained in a sanitary condition by regular washing or cleaning. Those who live on the streets and in homeless encampments simply do not have the means of washing or cleaning reusable bags. In addition, reusable bags that come into the grocery store from an unsanitary or disease laden environments (e.g. a homeless encampments or a home where there are communicable diseases) poses a public health hazard to shoppers and store clerks. For details read the cited article. (van Leeuwen, 2013)

Have you noticed how many grocery clerks are now donning plastic latex gloves? If you noticed this, then you must ask yourself: Why? Could it be that handling a customer’s reusable bags poses a real health risk to store employees,  a health risk not encountered with store provided paper and plastic bags?  The answer is obvious.

Bag Bans don’t solve problems, they just exchange one problem for another.

Bibliography

Graham, M. (2017, Sept 8). Plastic-bag ban led to hep A health crisis? Retrieved from San Diego Reader: https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/sep/08/stringers-plastic-bag-ban-led-hep-health-crisis/

van Leeuwen, A. (2013, June 2). Bacterial and Viral Health Hazards of Reusable Shopping Bags. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from Fight The Plastic Bag Ban: https://fighttheplasticbagban.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/bacterial-and-viral-health-hazards-of-reusable-shopping-bags_rev_1.pdf

 

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4 thoughts on “California’s Plastic Bag Ban and California’s Health Crisis

  1. I had to return to California a couple of weeks ago. I went to the grocery store. I bought a couple of plastic bags. So nice to live in an area where I can get “Paper or plastic” as I need. I reuse my plastic bags to line my garbage cans, and also I give away the ones that had boxed goods to my local “Senior Thrift Store” (that helps fund Meals on Wheels).

  2. Tell me, what action can I take? This law has always been about politics! It could have easily been handled with community awareness, volunteerism and education!
    When a law is passed and the politicians make the voters “feel good” about themselves then we should cover our heads because no one knows [what’s] next!

  3. The community has long been made aware of plastic bag litter, and volunteers with a number of environmental groups have periodically cleaned up litter in area beaches, riverbeds, and other environmentally sensitive areas. Since the plastic bag ban went into effect, you do see a reduction in the number of littered grocery bags. But the facts are, any product that is banned and eliminated will result in less litter. The biggest component of litter is fast food litter, as much as 29.4%; whereas, plastic bag litter was about 0.3% of total litter. Banning fast food takeout would have a huge impact in reducing litter by as much as 30% or more. But you don’t hear politicians or environmental groups talking about it. The stomach trumps principle.

    Politicians focused on plastic bag litter, how unsightly it is, but never addressed the cost or the practical aspects of a bag ban. We at Fight The Plastic Bag Ban have tried to address those issue in spite of the fact that so little information is publically available. Be sure to educated yourself by reading and understanding the articles posted on this website.

  4. I hated to see the plastic bag ban, banned from public use. I loved my plastic bags and use them for so many things. As soon as the ban took affect through your website I found out one could order the plastic bags (T-Shirt) bags and I did exactly that. I ordered 2 boxes of 1000 plastic bags each, so now I’m not without, from a company named ULine. Unfortunately a lot of folks don’t have the funds to order them and maybe someday they will come back. That was a joke getting rid of them as I still see plastic bags all over, not the kind we used to have but its still plastic. Keep up the good fight if possible to get our plastic bags returned to us in the stores.

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