Plastic bags gone with the wind

If you’re going to enjoy some shopping this week in Santa Monica, remember to bring your own bags. Sept. 1 was the first day the ban on distribution of single-use handled plastic bags was enforced. So get ready to pay ten cents for a recyclable paper bag, or bring your own reusable bag if you haven't already done so.

Enforcing the ban on plastic bags throughout all Santa Monica businesses is exactly what we needed to become a more environmentally conscious city.

Businesses should be glad to rid themselves of these unsightly bags and consumers will very quickly become accustomed to using their own reusable bags. The ban on plastic bags only highlights Santa Monica’s goal of greater sustainability.

The ban that took effect in March earlier this year prohibits all plastic bags, previously distributed at businesses and supermarkets, from being used and follows a growing list of other Californian cities, including San Jose, San Francisco, and the county of Santa Clara.

According to a statement from Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, “Californians throw away an estimated 16 billion plastic bags a year – more than 400 bags per person.” It’s not exactly hard to see why Californian environmentalists have been fighting so vehemently for legislative action against flimsy plastic.

Public agencies spend in excess of $300 million cleaning California’s coastline, according to the Heal the Bay foundation.

Plastic bags have a decomposition of 500 to 1,000 years, which is a frightening lifespan for something as ubiquitous as plastic.

Inevitably, not everyone is thrilled with the ban, as some Santa Monica residents have become accustomed to using plastic bags on their shopping trips. With handled plastic “T-shirt” bags falling into disuse, sales of paper bags are expected to rise.

Despite being slightly more recyclable than their plastic counterparts, paper bags are no less problematic. Once this is taken into consideration, a paper bag ban could also be on the way.

As I see it, we are better off purchasing attractive reusable bags.

Paper bags tear and give way as they become moist from shopping.

Lovely and long-lasting reusable bags are both widespread and affordable. Buying and keeping them is an easy step towards keeping our city and our environment pristine.

Who wants to see paper bags or plastic bags flying down the street, getting lodged in fences, clogging waterways, and endangering marine life?

No one can be happy watching birds and sea creatures struggle in their own environments due to plastic bags.

“Researchers estimate fish eat as much as 24,000 tons of plastic every year, a substance which is entering the food chain at an alarming rate,” said Assemblywoman Brownley.

With the plastic bags ban, we are a step closer to becoming more environmentally conscious.

The banning of plastic bags is not going to pose an inconvenience to people.

Instead of having a mountain of plastic bags in your cupboards, you will only need a few neatly folded reusable bags cleaning up trashed and cluttered cupboards.

We should be proud to declare ourselves “environmentally conscious” in many areas, such as using public transportation, choosing ‘greener’ landscaping, and enjoying organic food.

This ban will help us become even more conscious of our environment and rid our beautiful Santa Monica of those unsightly and annoying plastic bags.