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.


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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