Santa Cruz with a unanimous vote by the city council. The ordinance will likely come before councilmembers during their July 24 meeting for final passage, but all signs indicate that, nine months from now, not a single one-time use plastic bag will be found in Santa Cruz stores.
Restaurants are exempt from the regulation and bags used to wrap products like meat, ice cream and wet items are also allowed. Stores will need to carry paper bags with at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled material and charge customers 10 cents per bag if they opt to buy one.
Businesses get to keep the 10 cents to mitigate the cost of acquiring more expensive paper bags, according to the meeting's agenda report.
While many community members and environmental group representatives voiced their support for the ban during Tuesday's meeting, not a single business representative took the podium.
Patch set out to gauge what impact, if any, a single-use plastic bag ban would have on city businesses and if a 10-cent charge would adversely impact their relationship with customers. Here's what some had to say:
: Because the Front St. business—and all Trader Joe's locations—don't carry plastic bags, the store relies solely on paper to bag its customers' groceries.
Store "mate" Leonard, who asked only to be identified by his first name, said that many of the store's customers already bring re-useable bags with them when they shop. The store, he said, will continue to carry paper bags and charge the 10 cents, which will have "no impact on the store at all."
: Owner Casey Coonerty Protti said the shop hasn't used plastic bags for at least 10 years, only breaking out recycled-use ones during "massive rain storms" to protect vulnerable tomes.
Regardless, her customers are already accustomed to bringing their own bags and won't mind paying a dime for a paper bag if need be.
"The vast majority of people in Santa Cruz are already using reusable bags," she said. "Many people aren't going to want a paper bag and if they do, 10 cents to them won't make a difference."
Bookshop's paper bags are made from close to 100 percent recycled materials, she said, and the store has trained its cashiers to steer customers away from taking one.
"We've trained them to ask, 'Do you need a bag?' versus 'Do you want a bag?'" she said. "It really makes a difference in how many people end up using one."
Pure Pleasure: Although you would think the store's customers would want to keep their purchases discreet, co-owner Amy Baldwin said many don't bother taking a paper bag the store offers—no plastic here—after leaving the till.
Although they'll have to start paying 10 cents, Baldwin said her customers, who tend to be locals, will understand the extra charge.
"If we were a tourist destination, I think a lot of out-of-towners would be confused," she said. "But we're not really a tourist destination so I don't think it'll be a problem"
: The store hasn't carried plastic bags for 10 years, but owner Jim Bouchard said being forced to charge customers for paper bags is "a pain in the ass."
"Even though we get to keep the dime, it's going to create ill will with customers," he said. "It's just another intrusion of government into business."
Bouchard said he mistakenly charged customers for paper bags several months ago, thinking the countywide ordinance applied to his store.
"We got a lot of complaints from customers about that," he said. "They were not happy about it."