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What Are Your Thoughts On Banning the Plastic Bag?

What Are Your Thoughts On Banning the Plastic Bag?

Late last year, despite threats of legal action from the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, the Board of Supervisors decided to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery store check-out counters throughout unincorporated Marin. However, this ban would have no effect on the many grocery stores not located in unincorporated Marin.

What Are Your Thoughts On Banning the Plastic BagNow, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Novato, Sausalito, Tiburon and San Anselmo are about to propose a joint ordinance that will ban plastic bags; as well as, plastic take-out containers. This joint ordinance is designed to be almost identical to the ordinance passed last year. According to Bob Berg, the Community Development Director of San Rafael, the new joint ordinance will be presented in April.

Purpose of the Ban

The ban is designed to encourage shoppers to minimize waste by using re-usable bags to carry their products instead of using plastic or paper bags. In addition to eliminating plastic bags and containers from stores, the ordinance will require grocery stores to charge a 5-cent fee to anyone who doesn’t bring their own reusable bag.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition contends that Marin must follow the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and conduct an environmental impact analysis of the plastic bag ban. The coalition said Marin should determine whether the 5-cent fee charged to a customer wanting a paper bag instead of using their own re-usable bag will be enough to limit paper bag consumption.

In November 2010, a Los Angeles County ordinance banned plastic bags and imposed a 10-cent fee for paper bag usage. The environmental impact report (EIR) completed at that time concluded that a 10-cent fee was too small to motivate shoppers to employ re-usable bags. According to the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, that EIR also showed that the life cycle for paper bags results in 3.3 times more greenhouse gas emissions than for plastic bags.

Objectors also point to the durability of bags used over and over again. The Los Angeles EIR found that “polypropylene and cotton reusable bags must be used at least 104 times before delivering environmental benefits compared to plastic carryout bags.”

Residents Have a Plan

Marinwood residents Martha Runco and Linda Haumann might have a solution to this objection. Martha and Linda began making re-usable grocery bags from old blue jeans in December. They have already begun selling these denim crafts at the Marinwood Farmers Market every Saturday. They are now known as the “The Bay Area Bag Ladies” and a percentage of each sale goes to the Marin Food Bank.

Linda Haumann, 55, says “They’re all cotton. They can be washed and once you’re done with them, they can be composted.”

The ladies note that almost all the re-usable bags currently offered are developed from plastic that can contain lead and are made with plastic that is non-perishable. They contend that their product is so much more friendly to the environment. The bags are currently priced at $10 – $12. But, Linda and Martha are still trying to set a fair price.

Used jean donations are accepted and the ladies are planning to sell their creations online soon. At the same time, don’t look for a growing used blue jeans empire.

“It’s just a hobby,” Haumann said. “They can’t really be mass-produced. Cutting around the pockets is a little bit trickyā€¯

Go to www.bayareabagladies.com to see the bags or find Martha and Linda at the farmers market held on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm on Miller Creek Road and Marinwood Avenue.

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