Maybe you have noticed the resurgence of single-use plastic bags in LA and Orange Counties. If not, it is important to start paying attention.
One unexpected impact of COVID-19 has been time travel, we were brought back to 2012 by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order suspending portions of the statewide ban of single-use plastic bags. 2012 was the year when the Sierra Club Zero Waste team and many environmental groups succeeded in getting city leaders of Los Angeles to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags. And our work continued. In 2016, California passed a statewide plastic bag ban through Proposition 67 (SB 270). The ban allowed stores to provide paper or reusable plastic bags for a minimum of 10 cents if the patron didn't bring their own bags. Although the “reusable" bags could be plastic and looked like “single-use,” they needed to be certified conforming to new state specifications.
While COVID-19 had us sequestered in our homes and participating in social distancing, the California Grocers Association came up with the argument that reusable bags brought by the public were a vector issue - a significant method of disease transmission, employees risked COVID-19 exposure in loading groceries into these bags. Yet, they would not acknowledge the Department of Health’s claim that if customers bagged their own purchases, the point was moot, and employees were not in any vector issue. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had stated: "transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented."
WHAT CAN YOU DO? The provisions of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order impacting the single-use plastic ban expired on June 22. Unless there's a restriction by the local government, which is not widely seen in California, stores must allow you to bring your own bags, and offer paper or plastic reusable bags with the bag fee. Do you see any store that is not in compliance? Tell the store manager that the statewide plastic bag ban is back in play, remind him/her why California, other states and countries have banned single-use plastic bags.
Anyone Can Save the Ocean
Becky Ni, Age 15
"While I was conducting research, I found that a person uses a plastic bag on average for only 12 minutes. In the meantime, we only recycle 1 plastic bag in every 200 we use. Each year, 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are estimated to be consumed worldwide, meaning that one million are consumed per minute. A very large portion of these used plastic bags end up in the ocean, causing deaths of thousands of marine mammals who ingest plastic or get entangled in them. My painting shows a person carrying a plastic bag. The plastic bag represents the ocean and a sea turtle is trapped inside. A plastic bag is stuck on its head making it the bag’s victim. The person is the injurer since the person is the consumer of the bag. Dead coral reefs, fish bones, and more plastic bags lie on the ocean floor, showing how seriously the ocean is damaged. Finally, the background is full of people carrying fabric bags, showing the solution for saving our ocean."
[Art: Anyone Can Save the Ocean © Becky Ni for Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs all rights reserved]