It seems insane that people would willingly use something for five minutes that lasts for 500 years. Add to the equation that plastic accounts for 90 percent of floating marine debris (ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
?). How about the fact that plastic outweighs plankton by 46 times in the North Pacific Gyre? These concerns were forefront in the mind of Assemblywoman Julia Brownley
(D-Santa Monica) when she crafted a law that would make California the first state to ban plastic bags.
On June 2, the California State Assembly Committee passed AB 1998
with a 42-27 vote. The bill will next be heard in the Senate. If ratified, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, forbidding supermarkets and convenience stores from giving out single-use plastic bags -- “the most ubiquitous consumer product of 2009,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Paper bags would be verboten too, though retailers would be required to make reusable bags and recycled-paper (at least 40 percent post-consumer content) bags available to buy.
AB 1998 stands as America’s strongest-yet proposal against plastic litter, and could help reduce not only environmental impacts but fiscal ones too. To date, the U.S. has paid $11.5 billion for litter collection, disposal, and enforcement, with California spending about $25 million to pick up 9 billion bags.
If you’re a Californian who wants to voice your support or opposition, you can write to your state senator