Shoppers are being asked to use reusable shopping bags today instead of paper or plastic bags as part of “Day Without A Bag”, an annual event sponsored by Heal The Bay and retailers throughout Los Angeles County.
“After five years of hosting this event, it’s gratifying to see us reach the tipping point in getting rid of single-use shopping bags in Los Angeles County,” said Meredith McCarthy, programs director for Heal the Bay. “Bringing a reusable bag to the store is an easy and impactful way to improve the health of our oceans and neighborhoods.”
“Day Without A Bag” is being held a day before the Los Angeles City Council Energy and Environment Committee is scheduled to consider a motion to ban single-use plastic and paper shopping bags in Los Angeles that was authored by Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District. McCarthy said events like “Day Without a Bag” and bans like the one being proposed by Koretz are necessary to curtail the use of an estimated 2.33 billion single-use plastic carryout bags, and 400 million single-use paper bags, annually in the city of Los Angeles. She added that one-in-three cities in California now have bans on single-use plastic bags, as does the County of Los Angeles in unincorporated areas.
“The average person still uses 500 to 600 bags per year. It is pretty unacceptable that we are still using plastic bags,” McCarthy added. “A Day Without a Bag hopes to encourage people to stop using single-use bags and to consider alternatives.”
Koretz said he wants a ban on all singe-use bags, both paper and plastic, but believes the city council may take a step-by-step approach, first banning single-use plastic bags, and later banning paper.
“I am still going to ask the committee to consider [banning both singe-use plastic and paper bags], but my guess is that the city will want to take a more gradual approach. As a compromise, I am asking them to look at doing something like what the county and Santa Monica have done, which is banning single-use plastic bags, and charging customers for paper bags,” Koretz said.
He added that the full city council may address the issue on Friday, but it depends on what the energy and environment committee decides. He said if the city approves a ban on single-use shopping bags, it will likely prompt the State to do the same.
Assemblymember Julia Brown-ley (D-Santa Monica) has indicated that she plans to reintroduce a measure next year calling for a uniform statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
While the city council grapples with the issue, McCarthy said Heal the Bay is giving the public options through “A Day Without a Bag”. On Thursday, Dec. 15, Heal the Bay is partnering with Ralphs, which is offering rebates for people who use reusable bags, and the 99 Cents Only Stores, which is offering a free reusable bag with every purchase of $19.99 or more. Some of the promotions will also last throughout the holidays. “Green Santa” and his band of Los Angeles County Public Works “eco-elves” will distribute free reusable bags to patrons at shopping areas throughout L.A. County through Jan. 1. Patrons “caught” using reusable bags will be rewarded with special prizes. For a list of promotions and giveaway sites, visit www.heal-thebay.org/dwab.
“Bringing a reusable bag to the store is an easy and impactful way to improve the health of our oceans and neighborhoods,” McCarthy added.