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Poll: Should Berkeley Ban Plastic Bags?

The City of Berkeley has been considering a plastic bag ban for three years. Now, Alameda County is in the process of drafting a law, which may include either a mandatory or optional ban.

"Paper or plastic?" the clerk at the grocery store asks.

You choose plastic. The clerk grabs a bag from the metal rack, then another, before double-bagging your groceries so that they don't spill all over the street when you leave the store.

You get home and unpack. What's left? Bags, bags and more bags. 

But perhaps not for long. The Alameda County Waste Management Authority is in the process of drafting legislation that will either include mandatory plastic bag ban for all cities and unincorporated areas of the county, or an optional ban.

What will the City of Berkeley decide, if given the choice? To ban, or not to ban?

Students at UC Berkeley rallied Wednesday in support of a plastic bag ban in Berkeley. With the help of the California Public Interest Research Group, the students say they have gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition urging the Berkeley City Council to pass a plastic bag ban.

Currently, 13 California cities have bans in effect, including San Francisco. Should Berkeley join them?

Rachel Stern October 13, 2011 at 06:43 PM
I don't live in Berkeley, but am in support of a plastic bag ban in all cities due to the environmental costs plastic poses. But I also feel that paper bags shouldn't be the alternative. Instead, stores should charge their customers a small fee to use a bag. In many countries this is the norm, and it gives people an incentive just to bring their own bag. It's also a win-win situation: the stores save money, and customers help the environment.
Susan Silber October 13, 2011 at 06:48 PM
This is a no-brainer. And yes people just bring their own bags. It's just a matter of changing your habits.
Karen Kempler October 13, 2011 at 09:06 PM
If you live in multiple unit housing, you are required to wrap your garbage (especially wet garbage) in plastic bags to avoid stink, filth and critters. If plastic bags are banned, people will be forced to buy them, as well as the reusable cloth bags (they aren't free, folks). Banning plastic bags, rather that educating over time, profits the makes of plastic bags and is a financial burden on people with limited, low incomes.
Siddika October 14, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Let's face it. Berkeley is so far away from being a center of environmental consciousness that it's not even on the map! The fact that our city has not already banned plastic bags is a scandal. And I really find it hard not to lose faith in the future every time I go to a Berkeley supermarket. Almost always I am usually the ONLY ONE with a cloth bag! I watch people, including young ones, ask blithely for plastic bags and I wonder if they know of the thousand miles of ocean in the Pacific Gyre that is a dead zone because of plastic waste!
Siddika October 14, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Find a friend who composts, get a compost bucket for your wet garbage and take the stuff to your friend. You'll be doing the planet and the Pacific Ocean a favor. This is what I do, and while it takes a bit of effort, it's the right thing. Google Pacific Gyre for some eye-opening information.
Heather Wood October 29, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Plastic bags need to be banned everywhere. They are clogging up our landfill, destroying our oceans and serve no use other than being another disposable, non-bodegradeable commodity. All I have to say in answer to the person who needs plastic bags for garbage; back before we had plastic bags, we used the paper bags from the grocery store, used newspaper to line our inside garbage pails and we washed the pails regularly. Life was fine before plastic bags; it would be fine once they're gone too.

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