In December of 2014, California bag manufacturers spent billions overturning the first plastic bag ban in the nation. Although bag makers would lose money, the push for the legislation continues because most people support the ban, claiming it would help the environment and save money in the long run.
Over 13 billion plastic bags are annually produced in California alone. The non-biodegradable plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to disintegrate which would leave a negative impact on our world. They pose an enormous threat to our environment, threatening animals who they eat them, killing plants due to their toxicity, and building up in landfills that eventually contaminate groundwater and soil. They also make cities look filthy. If the law is passed, less bags will be produced, less animals will die, and our world will be a much cleaner and safer place for generations to come.
“Plastic bags come from fossil fuels, fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource, and there are alternative ways of getting things to your house,” Bonita Vista AP Environmental Science teacher Jennifer Ekstein said.
Some people are now contributing to the movement by using their own cloth reusable bags. On average, each recyclable bag used replaces 1,000 plastic bags in its lifetime. Although many are in favor of using recyclable bags, others believe that the ban would cause an inconvenience to customers.
“I already use reusable bags due to the push of going green and everything, but I think the problem we are going to run into is that people are not going to have their bags with them and they will have to pay for the plastic bags,” Ralph’s supermarket employee James, who chose not disclose his last name, said. “I don’t know what kind of problems that will cause in all the stores.”
Many consumers believe that this big push is creating awareness and in some ways sparking a trend in which more and more people are switching from harmful to environmentally friendly bags in the past couple of years.
“I have seen [recyclable bags] a lot more in the past couple of years but the main thing is that just like everybody else they forget [them] in the trunk and they go to the store and don’t have their bags,” James said.
Although the ban may positively impact the world overall, there are still greater negative impacts that must be considered. When the law is passed, consumers will be charged for each plastic bag that they use but the people that profit from that money are the companies and stores. By donating the money to an environmental cause rather than having companies profit from it, this law can make a bigger difference on our planet.
“The money should go into some fund for an ecological impact rather than benefiting the stores that are selling the plastic bags,” Ekstein said.
Although the law has not yet been passed, a large social movement has begun. As the word is spreading and people are becoming aware of the bags’ effects on the world, California is trying to help the environment collectively in their own unique by reducing their use of plastic bags.
“I think [the plastic bag ban] is going to have to be a whole cultural change and family change as well. Instead of seeing plastic bags in your house, seeing lots of reusable bags,” Ekstein said.