The city of Los Angeles made another huge leap this week by becoming the largest city in the US to ban plastic bags. Stores throughout LA are required to phase out the use of plastic bags through the end of the year. Larger retailers will have 6 months from the day of the ban and smaller stores have up to a year.
The biggest snag in the Hawaiian ban is that retailers are only required to stop using them at the point-of-sale. Food items, goods, and produces will still be wrapped in plastic and customers are still free to use non-renewable plastic resources to store purchased items.
Critics against the LA ban claim the ordinance is too strict and threatens thousands of industry jobs. Environmentalists counter-argue, saying the ban will help rid some of the 2.3 billion single-use plastic bags distributed in the city every year—bags that are clogging up water ways, blowing around streets, and hanging out in trees.
Other cities around the US banned plastic bags, but LA will be the first large city to do so. Other countries also have plastic bag bans, including England, Mexico, India, Australia, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh.
But, the question still remains whether banning thin plastic bags is the right solution. Last year Britain’s Environmental Agency published a report on the Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carry Bags. The studied showed that carry bags with a longer life had to be reused a number of times before they were environmentally a more viable option.
According to the report, a plastic bag used one time is the environmental equivalent to a paper bag being used 3 times and a cotton bag being used 131 times. It may be a better bet to reuse plastic bags than to spend hordes of money on reusable shopping bags.
The bottom line is we must become our own best advocates for environmental health. Reuse bags that you already have from the grocer. Reduce waste by avoiding double bagging food items such as meats and produce. Eat more whole foods rather than processed foods that come in packages. Rather than throwing away plastic bags, use them as trashcan liners or bring them back to the store to recycle.
The Big Question:
What’s your take on the plastic bag ban? Do you think it’s necessary or is there a better solution? Share in the comments below!
The Daily Green- 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Mother Nature- 16 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste