California Bans Plastic Bags

Oct 1, 2014 By Anita R
Anita R's picture

Can you guess what is the most pressing problem for any fast developing city? Well, believe it or not, it is garbage!

In a landmark step, California has become the first U.S state to ban plastic bags. "This bill is a step in the right direction -- it reduces the plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," California's Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement. 

Starting in July 2015, plastic bags will disappear from grocery stores, and a year later from pharmacies and convenience stores.

The Problem With Plastic

Have you seen a landfill? They are an eye-sore. Plastic makes up more than 18% of all waste that is dumped in landfills.

Single-use bags - both paper and plastic, are a huge threat to the environment. The statistics is stunning. Over 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of these, nearly 100 billion are single-use. That’s more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year! Only 2-3% of the bags are recycled.

So, what happens to the remaining? Some make it to landfills, and others into our waterways. Plastic pollution is a major concern to marine life. Remember the Pacific Garbage Patch.

The main issue with plastic is that it does not decompose like other waste products. It retains its shape and form for nearly 2 to 3 centuries. In the meanwhile, plastic photo-degrades – breaks down into smaller particles because of sun and wind. When birds and animals unknowingly eat these plastic bits they choke and die. Strangulation of animals and birds by plastic bags is quite common.

Plastic can clog pipes and drains and cause flooding. Also, think about the colossal waste of resources to make these bags. The cost of producing, transporting and recycling plastic bags is enormous when you consider that 98% of them end up in the dump!

If you think you are getting these bags free at the store, think again. Stores will increase prices of the things you buy to recover their costs. No doubt shopping bags serve a very useful purpose. They are light weight and convenient for us to carry our shopping. While banning them will be a nuisance -- you need to remember to take those cloth bags along. It is good for the environment after all!