County-Wide Plastic Bag Ban Only Few Days Away

Tips on how to prepare for the ban expected to be in effect in Alameda County starting January 1, 2013.

On Jan. 1, Alameda County will join San Francisco, San Mateo County, San Jose and 49 other California cities and counties in no longer providing single-use plastic bags at checkout — making reusable bags a must-have for any Bay Area resident, according to the latest release by the County.

All stores selling packaged food must charge a minimum of 10 cents for each paper bag.

The County's release goes on to share tips on how to incorporate reusable bags into your holidays this year: 

  • Save money and avoid the bag charge by bringing reusable bags while doing your holiday shopping. Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution!
  • Give friends and family reusable bags as gifts or stocking stuffers. Stylish, eco-friendly bags can be found at Etsy.com or for as little as $5 on Amazon.
  • Get in the DIY holiday spirit and craft your own reusable bag using only an old T-shirt and scissors (no sew). You can even personalize it with a favorite design or message for a loved one. See here for instructions.

For more information on Alameda County’s new ordinance, visit www.ReusableBagsAC.org.

Do you keep your reuseable bags in your car? How do you remember to bring them with you shopping? Tell us in the comments section below.


Senior A. Titude December 29, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I'll probably pay for the paper bags since I use them to line my kitchen trash can. Don't like using plastic liners since they don't biodegrade. I do carry a bag with me, though, for trips to monterey market, etc., and it has a carabiner clip so it is easy to take. I clip it to my bike lock key when I'm riding to the store and, on the rare occasion that I drive, I clip it to my car key. Hard to forget it, then =).
Dee December 29, 2012 at 07:15 PM
How is the bag fee collected and enforced? Is there a "bag fee" police? So who gets the $ and how is it allocated?
Leilah December 29, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How to prepare? Shop in Contra Costa County (for the time being) . . .
dgies December 29, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I'm sure we can all look forward to more dog poop being left on the street now that plastic bags will be scarce.
Mary December 29, 2012 at 11:57 PM
This is going to be a pain. I use those bags to dispose of garbage and cat litter. Now I will have to buy bags to put my garbage in, which seems awfully wasteful.
Pwll December 30, 2012 at 12:46 AM
But you can buy bags that are compostable and that's good -- also paper bags are fine for garbage that isn't compostable or "wet". I use my plastic bags for picking up the doggy poop, but we'll still have the plastic bags for produce to do that with. And I have to say, I have a huge overload of plastic bags, so it will be a while before they're all gone.
Pwll December 30, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Sounds like cutting off your nose to save your face, to me. Carrying reusable bags is easy. I've done it for years. Keep them in the back of your car. After emptying them, hang them on the doorknob and when ever you go to the car you just pick them up and take them to the car.
D. Mehrten December 30, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I've been hoarding bags for awhile and shop in Contra Costa county so will hoard more against the day they get on board. They are indispensable for cat litter scoopings as the produce bags are too narrow. I have some reusable bags which I am slowly learning to remember to take into the store with me also.
Robert Mills December 30, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Do stores have to throw out unused bags in their inventory? Bob
D. Mehrten December 30, 2012 at 06:38 AM
If a store is part of a chain they can just send them to another county. Not many counties are participating yet.
Stephanie Travis December 30, 2012 at 06:47 AM
In two different newspaper articles I read on this subject, a common complaint by store employees was that apparently many people who bring their own bags rarely if ever wash them, creating very unpleasant experiences for store workers, so let's be considerate of these workers and keep bags clean. Does anyone know if this new law applies to newspapers that are home delivered and other products, like clothes?. Unless you buy only a couple of small items every time you go to a store, this new law will require a number of bags in a variety of sizes. .
Stewart Gooderman December 30, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I just bought my annual replacement clothes at Brooks Brothers yesterday (socks, shirts, trousers). I certainly didn't have a bag big enough to fit all that stuff in. They said they were obligated to charge me $0.10 for the shopping bag. I said, to go ahead.
Eve A. Ma December 30, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Cloth bags or those string bags hold a lot more than the grocery plastic bags. I really prefer them; keep one in the car at all times. I do use plastic bags for my kitchen garbage liner...need a big one so the grocery bags have never helped with that. Any suggestions as to a better garbage container liner?
Rona December 31, 2012 at 06:45 AM
It will be a pain (that I will eventually deal with and get over) because I do not have a car or bike, I walk/bus it everywhere. So for example I will get off the bus after work and say..Hey,I want a bottle of wine from BevMo as its on the way home and I'm out..I don't always think of carrying around a bag, especially when the bag/purse I am carrying was NOT designed for a wine bottle or two , and that wine bottle is NOT going to fit..haha. .. But could be because I only have those reusable Trader Joe bags and they don't fold down properly to fit in a small purse so I'm like UGH, that is why I don't have a reusable always on me. Just have to find a small sturdy bag for us walkers that hold up well but can fold down teeny weeny like:P Any suggestions would help:P
Michael Cabanatuan December 31, 2012 at 09:04 AM
It's the end of the world.
Senior A. Titude December 31, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I use these. Have a carabiner to clip to purse, pants, keys. http://www.chicobag.com/category/original Holds a TON of stuff and doesn't rip out.
Amy Smolens January 01, 2013 at 01:51 AM
@Rona and others who want small bags, try Chicobags at http://www.chicobag.com/. They have lots of different ones. Washable Produce Bags http://www.washableproducebags.com/ are fantastic, especially if you don't have a dog. You can roll the bags up and fit them into one bag or into your pocket.
Peter Goodman January 01, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Safeway 3 15 New Year's Day. Out of paper bags! Bring your own or learn to balance your groceries on your head. Good planning, Safeway! Did you assign this task to the same guy who checks for out of date dairy?
Stephanie Travis January 02, 2013 at 02:46 AM
I completely agree with the ban on plastic bags, although I do understand it will create problems for people who need to walk or take public transportation in the rain, but can someone explain to me why a direct charge to the consumer is being instituted for paper bags? It seems to be something that will impact low-income families and have no impact on those who consider the charge to be minor. I will continue to use paper bags because I don't intend to subside a new product on the market that can only be used for one purpose and does not have the utility of grocery bags. Thanks.
Amy Smolens January 02, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Most municipalities or other government seeking to reduce plastic bag use have enacted a small charge, the thought being that this will cause people to think about their use of bags and encourage them to use their own. This isn't peculiar to the U.S., or even to places that we would think as "progressive" areas. In 2011 Wales started to charge for single use bags, saying "The 5p charge should be enough to influence consumer behaviour and reduce the number of bags given out without putting an unnecessary burden on shoppers, or preventing impulse shopping. It’s important to remember that no one has to pay the charge. It can simply be avoided by customers reusing their bags." As the City of Calabasas points out, " 'Free' single-use bags are costly and the cost is passed onto consumers at checkout, and taxpayers pick up the bill for litter clean-up." Their website at http://www.cityofcalabasas.com/bags.html also has many interesting and informative facts about bag usage and costs. So the nominal charge seems both fair and logical.
D. Mehrten January 02, 2013 at 03:14 AM
I was in Amsterdam last month and was (with apology from the clerk) charged some small amount for a plastic bag in a grocery store. I remember first seeing these single-use type bags in Germany in 1969 (before we had them here). Full circle.
Stephanie Travis January 03, 2013 at 09:46 AM
The grocery bags I use are from Andronicos and are certified under the Sustainiable Forestry Initiative. Their bags can be composted and are recyclable. I have found no study that has shown that paper bags are a problematic source of litter, as are plastic bags. The only criticism I can find for paper grocery bags is that between 10 to 14 million trees are cut down to produce the bags. What the sources do not point out is that those trees are grown on farms in order to produce paper products and the trees are replaced with new growth. It's not as if some one is going into a forest and cutting down millions of trees to make paper bags. In fact the presence of these farms adds to the forest canopy. I have two decorative bags I rarely use because they are too small and, like plastic bags, their sides collapse and cause their contents to roll around in my car. Right now I have seven grocery bags in my basement filled with things for Goodwill, used books for the library and magazines for a detention center. This does not include the three bags I will use this week to trash cat sand; All but the trash bags can, and probably will be, used again by Goodwill, the library and the center. Any fee is nominal depending on your income. When thousands of families feed their children McDonald's hamburgers because a balanced meal is too expensive, any fee on groceries for them is,in my opinion, disgusting and political correctness run a muck.
Trish January 03, 2013 at 06:14 PM
I carry a string bag that is always in the bottom of my purse or in a pocket. It expands to carry a large amount.


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