California has become the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags at most grocery stores.
Voters narrowly approved Proposition 67, which upholds a ban on plastic bags that lawmakers initially approved in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported. The legislation was sent to a referendum after efforts by the plastics industry.
Should plastic checkout bags be banned?
According to one estimate, Californians use 15 billion plastic checkout bags every year.
Shoppers must now either bring their own bags, buy a recycled paper bag or buy a reusable plastic bag. Those bags are selling for at least 10 cents each, but some stores have been giving away reusable bags during the transition period, FOX 5 San Diego reported. Californians are encouraged to leave a few reusable bags in their cars so that they’re never in a position where they need to purchase bags at the store.
Environmental groups believe the ban will reduce pollution and prevent fish, birds and other wildlife from becoming trapped in the bags. On the other hand, plastic bag makers have said the ban could have a negative impact on their industry and cost local manufacturing jobs.
While California is the first to impose a statewide ban on plastic bags, a growing number of cities have either passed similar bans or started charging for single-use plastic bags. The National Conference of State Legislators has a list of those locations on its website.
Start preparing: Your state could be next…
While grocery stores in several cities already charge for plastic bags, many others are encouraging shoppers to purchase reusable bags at the store. So it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and start preparing in case your state is next.
Many stores will offer free or super cheap reusable bags as a promotion, so if you’re offered one, go ahead and start stocking up! You may also be able to get a few at local events or festivals, where companies are giving away promotional items — including a reusable bag!
So if you start saving some now, you won’t have to pay for them if/when the time comes!