Congratulations Los Angeles for being the largest city in the United States to ban single-use plastic bags! On May 23rd with a 13-1 vote, the Los Angeles City Council banned plastic bags. Not only are plastic bags banned, but checkout counters will charge a 10-cent fee on them. Thus, further encouraging people to be and sustainable, and bring reusable bags to the market.
I'm proud to say that if you looked in my trunk and in my house, you would find quite the array of reusable bags (in all sizes and colors).
LA joins 47 other California cities to ban single-use plastic bags. Each year, Los Angeles uses around 2.7 billion plastic bags (that's A LOT). With a population of 4 million, LA's newest green ban will have a huge effect on our environment. No one wants to see the "urban tumbleweed" that is a plastic bag littering the sides of our freeways or in our city trees any longer!
Large stores will phase out plastic bags over a six month period, and provide free paper bags for another six months. On the other hand, smaller retailers will get a full year to dissipate plastic bags in their stores. A 10-cent charge for paper bags will be allowed after a year by retailers in order to encourage people to bring in reusable bags when they shop.
As LA Councilman Richard Alarcón stated, "Let's not stop with plastic bags." I completely agree! We only have one planet, but we've managed to really degrade its beauty over the last century. Take a step back, and reassess certain daily tasks you do a day, that could be more environmental beneficial than detrimental.
Although, this ban is only a small step in the right direction. There are plenty of other things we can do to decrease our carbon/environmental footprint. It's the little change that you make on a daily basis that will help change the world. One way I've been implementing in my life is bringing in my own to-go mug to Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf—instead of getting disposable cups (usually 2 if you get something hot) each TIME I need that pick-me-up.
Sometimes the coffee shop will give you a discount if you bring your own mug! There is a photo I attached to this post of my new reusable to-go cup—it's made by the environmentally friendly company KeepCup. Take a look at their mission statement and facts about their product; they are a great company! Listed on their website are some eye-opening facts:
- International Paper estimates that annually in the United States over 58 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill; that is, 158 disposable cups for every US inhabitant.
- Annually 500 billion disposable cups are manufactured around the world; that’s about 75 disposable cups for every single person on the planet.
- Half of the plastic used in the world today is for single use items.
- On average, each disposable cup contains 5% of the raw materials involved in the process of making and delivering it.
- The 500 billion disposable cups we manufacture annually placed end to end could circumnavigate the earth 100 times.
Another simple task is to use public transport more often, or bike from place to place if possible (see photo). Not only is it better for your health to excercise, but it's good for the environment too! Using public transport decreases the amount of gas/fossil fuels released into the environment per person. Or just try walking...that's another great way to get from place A to place B. Take a friend along! Switching to energy efficient light bulbs is another easy way to decrease your footprint.
Netflix actually has a wide assortment of fantastic environmental documentaries that I suggest you take a peek at if this ban is inspiring to you. From where our water comes from and what's in it, to plastic in the environment, to the food we eat. There are literally tons of documentaries that will lead you to making the more environmentally conscious decisions in your life.
So read up, watch, and learn to be a better person to the planet! You're only hurting yourself, and future generations if you don't.