Category Archives: Reusable Shopping Bags

California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban

A few volumes of the journals of each house (A...
Not all laws passed by the California legislature are in the public interest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The California Legislature has once again failed the people of California, this time by passing a draconian plastic bag ban i.e. SB-270). This legislation would ban the distribution of thin-film plastic carryout bags by grocery and convenience stores and impose a minimum fee of 10-cents per store provided paper or reusable bag. The intent of the fee is to change shopper behavior by using a punitive financial incentive to coerce shoppers into bringing and using their own reusable bags. The legislature could have passed a much simpler solution that would have received a much greater and widespread public support and would not have involved changing shopper behavior or imposing bag fees while at the same time solving the plastic bag litter problem. Continue reading California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban

California Legislature Passes Statewide Bag Ban Bill

California State Capital in Sacramento
California State Capital in Sacramento (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Friday, 29 August, 2014 the California State Legislature passed a statewide plastic bag ban in passing SB-270. SB-270 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Governor Brown has until 30 September 2014 to act on the measure. Governor Brown has not indicated support for or opposition to the measure.

If the measure becomes law, shoppers will have to bring their own carryout bags, purchase and use reusable bags, or purchase a paper or thick plastic “reusable” bag for 10-cents each. The law becomes effective on 1 July 2015 for most grocery stores and 1 July 2016 for convenience stores.

NOTE: The key provisions of SB-270 are outlined below. These key provisions are taken from the language of SB-270 as much as possible but have been changed and modified for clarity and readability. Readers are referred to the actual legislation at: SB-270 (Padilla). Continue reading California Legislature Passes Statewide Bag Ban Bill

Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

English: A sign in Santa Clara, California pro...
A sign in Santa Clara, California proclaims the city’s status as an All-America City in 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 19 August 2014, the Santa Clara City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an Ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use carry-out bags including the approval and Adoption of a Negative Declaration pursuant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The latter document declared that the bag ban will not result in a significant environmental impact.

Similar to ordinances passed by other cities, the proposed ordinance would ban the distribution of plastic carryout bags at point of sale beginning 1 December 2014.  Retailers may also make paper bags or reusable bags (Cloth or thick plastic bags) available for sale at a minimum fee of 10 cents.  In addition, customers who participate in WIC or SNAP (Food Stamp Programs) are eligible to receive one or more paper bags at NO COST.  The fees collected by the retail establishment are to be retained by the retailer and are meant to pay for the cost of implementing the ordinance (i.e. the cost of paper bags provided to customers paying the paper bag fee and the cost of free paper bags received by WIC and SNAP participants.) (van Leeuwen, Plastic Bag Ban Creates New Welfare Benefit, 2013)  A retail establishment is subject to a fine for each occurrence where it provides a customer a plastic carryout bag not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag at the point of sale for the purpose of carrying purchases home. Continue reading Santa Clara City Council Passes Bag Ban

What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Shopping Bag Ban
Shopping Bag Ban (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Most communities that have implemented plastic bag bans have generally followed the same prescription. First, plastic carryout bag are banned at checkout, and a minimum fee of 10-cents is charged for each paper bag issued in order to coerce shoppers into bringing their own reusable bags. In addition, most communities but not all, provide an exemption to the paper bag fee for certain low income groups.

Most communities that have passed plastic bag bans have done so without seriously considering the impact upon on community residents. In particular the costs imposed on residents complying with the bag ban. While a few cities have calculated the cost of reusable bags for a typical family, they have largely ignored the value of personal time required for residents to handle reusable bags (such as the effort to put bags into the car, wash bags on a regular basis, dry bags, fold bags, etc.) and the increased cost of water and energy. As a result such estimates are flawed and incomplete.

Cost of Plastic Bag Alternatives

In an article titled “Plastic Bag Alternatives Much More Costly To Consumers” the cost of different bag alternatives is estimated and discussed. This analysis includes bag alternatives such as store supplied plastic bags, store supplied paper bags. Shopper supplied plastic bags, and shopper supplied reusable bags. Furthermore, the analysis includes not only the out-of-pocket costs for bags and also the value of one’s time calculated at $12 per hour required to manage shopper supplied bag options. Continue reading What Will A Plastic Bag Ban Cost Residents In Your Community

Shoppers Reject Using Reusable Bags

Maker Faire 2008 San Mateo 16
City of San Mateo Bags Booth, Maker Faire 2008
Bag usage surveys conducted to date overwhelmingly show that shoppers have rejected using reusable bags and preferred to use paper bags or NO bags at all by a ratio of about two-to-one. While the stated intent of most plastic bag ban ordinances is to shift the majority of shoppers into using reusable bags, and reinforced by imposing minimum fees on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers into using reusable bags, the exact opposite has happened instead. This is not surprising since using reusable bags is not without its own set of problems.

To read more click on the following link: Shoppers Reject Reusable Bags

Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe
Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 1 October, 2013 the Lake Tahoe City Council voted 3-2 to ban “single-use” plastic bags distributed at the check stand for customers to carry purchases home.  Councilmembers Hal Cole, Angela Swanson, and Brooke Laine voted for the ban and Mayor Tom Davis and councilmember JoAnn Conner voted against the ban.  What makes this plastic carryout bag ban ordinance different from others is that is does not mandate a fee for paper bags; does not require retail stores to keep records and report to the city on the number of paper bags distributed and fees collected; and does not implement an enforcement mechanism by the city.  The council decided that it is up to the retailer to decide if he wants to charge a fee for paper bags or recover the cost of paper bags through higher retail prices.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

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Bag Bans: Trading One Problem For Another

 

Australian Green Bag
Australian Green Bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials in many communities across California and the Nation have implemented bans on the distribution of plastic carryout bags at selected retailers including a fee on paper bags.  The fee on paper bags is imposed for no other reason than to coerce shoppers to switch to using reusable bags.  The reason most often given by these officials is the litter and aesthetic problem posed by plastic carryout bags and the harm caused to marine and terrestrial environments including wildlife.

These officials, have unfortunately, succumbed to political correctness and the self-interest of being seen as “green” and supportive of the environment.  However, instead of due diligence to carefully evaluate alternative solutions, officials adopt the same populist prescription implemented by other communities.

Although Bag Ban Proponents are passionate about their zeal to protect the environment, their ideas are generally disconnected from reality and their solutions don’t work and are unrealistic.  Nowhere is this more aptly illustrated than in the communities of San Jose and Santa Monica where bag usage surveys reveal that shoppers opt for paper bags or no bags over reusable bags by a ratio of two-to-one.  In other words, the majority of shoppers reject using reusable bags.

Because officials do not carefully evaluate the litter impact of plastic carryout bags compared to the impact that a plastic bag ban will have on their citizens, officials have unwittingly traded one problem for another.  In other words, the bag ban doesn’t really solve a problem, it only shifts the problem from one area to another.  What is worse, a plastic bag litter problem which has no impact in your personal life, now after a bag ban presents a series of challenges, in your face, each and every time you go shopping.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Bag Bans – Trading One Problem For Another

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Using Reusable Bags: It’s Not That Easy

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...

One of the most often heard claims by those who advocate imposing bag bans on everyone else, is that using reusable bags is not very hard to do.  Here are a few of their typical statements:

  • “I’ve happily been using reusable bags for years, so others should too.”
  • “What’s the big deal about remembering to bring your bag?”
  • “Some people will resist it at first, but eventually they will change and get used to it.”
  • “Sometimes it is hard to change habits, but people will change.  They just need encouragement.”
  • “Look!  I carry a few compacted reusable bags right on my purse strap!”
  • “It is easy! It isn’t so hard!”

These statements are often delivered in an exasperated or condescending tone, implying that people are making a big deal out of nothing.  The real basis for their argument is this: They do it, so others should not complain when they are forced to do it as well.

Setting aside the argument about whether or not it is right to force others to adopt an assumed green lifestyle, we wanted to examine why using reusable bags is challenging and why compliance with using reusable bags is so low, even in communities that have already implemented bag bans.  

Statistics

Surveys at grocery stores before and after bag bans show that most people are choosing not to use reusable bags.  In San Jose, the number of customers leaving grocery stores with no bag went up from 12.9% to 43.5% and the number of customers using paper bags went up from 10.3% to 18.8% after the bag ban. (Romanov, 2012)  Similarly, in Santa Monica customers with no bag went up from 15% to 36% and paper bags went up from 5% to 29%. (Team Marine, 2013)  The statistics for non-grocery stores are even worse, with an abysmal 8% of shoppers using reusable bags almost 2 years after the bag ban. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013, p. 12)

Using reusable bags must not be that easy, since the vast majority of shoppers avoid using these bags and choose to use either paper bags or no bags at all over reusable bags by a ratio of about two to one. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013)

To read the rest of the article, click on the following link: Using Reusable Bags Not That Easy

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Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought

California Condor on the 2005 California State...
California Condor on the 2005 California State quarter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 17 January 2014, Governor Brown declared a Drought State Of Emergency for California which included a call on Californians to reduce water usage by 20%!  In signing the declaration, Governor Brown stated “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas. … and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” (Brown, 2014)

Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, stated “This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times” and that we need to conserve the water we have for future use.  Similarly, State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin stated that there simply is not enough water to meet the needs of farmers, communities, and “the conservation efforts intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California”. (Associated Press, 2014) Continue reading Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought

Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives

Plastic BagThe main reason policy makers give for banning plastic carryout bags is because of the litter impact of these bags upon the environment.  Yet, plastic bags comprise at most a miniscule 0.6% of roadside litter;  Whereas, Fast Food litter comprises 29.1% of roadside litter.  Despite the litter impact of plastic carryout bags, plastic bags produce fewer greenhouse gases than paper or cotton bags.  Plastic bags require 70% less energy to manufacture than paper bags.  Plastic bags take less than 4% of the water needed to manufacture paper bags.  Plastic bags generate up to 80% less waste than paper bags.  It takes 7 trucks to deliver paper bags and only 1 truck for the same number of plastic bags.  Furthermore, it takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than a pound of paper.

To justify banning plastic grocery bags in favor of paper or reusable bags with their higher environmental footprints, bag ban proponents rely on reusing a bag multiple times in order for its overall environmental impact to be less than a plastic carryout bag on a per use basis.  The concept expressed in Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) is that because there would be fewer reusable bags in circulation and since each bag is used multiple times that an environmental advantage is achieved over the use of plastic carryout bags.  However, there are some flaws in this concept.

To learn more click on the following link: Plastic Bags – Greener Than Alternatives