After finding more than 20,000 plastic bags during beach clean-ups in Santa Cruz and Monterey , Save Our Shores lobbied hard to have the bags banned so they would no longer choke wildlife and pollute the land.
There will be no more choice of paper or plastic at more than 100 local stores in the unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County. There will be paper, but it will cost a dime this year and a quarter next year.
"It's huge, this is a historic day," said Save Our Shores Director Laura Kasa. "We've been working on this for two and a half years and the county has been really strong in its support.
"We're the first jurisdiction along the Monterey Bay Sanctuary that is passing a ban that is being put into effect. I hope others will follow."
From noon to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, the organization is holding a celebration and handing out canvas bags at Safeway at the Redwood Shopping Center on 41st Avenue from 12-2 and from 4-6 p.m. at Safeway at Rancho Del Mar in Aptos and Felton Fair Shopping Center.
Speaking at the noon gathering will be Save Our Shores Executive Director Laura Kasa, Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mark Stone, Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold, and Noelle White from Assemblymember Bill Monning’s office. Karla Oliveira from Deli-Licious Café will also be joining us, her restaurant is part of the voluntary Plastic Bag Ban for restaurants in Santa Cruz County.
Plastic bags will be banned from about 100 retail businesses, including grocery stores, but will not be banned from restaurants, because of a threatened lawsuit by a group called Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. That group contends that fishing hooks and lines are killing birds and sea creatures, not plastic bags. Its website has a picture of President Barack Obama carrying take out food from a San Francisco restaurant in plastic bags.
It contends that the ban is a case of bad science and over-regulation by government.
Stores will still have paper bags, but are asking customers to bring their own reusable bags to the markets. There will be a 10 cent fee on paper bags through 2012, which will increase to 25 cents in 2013, as a way to encourage - or force - customers to remember their reusables.
"We want people to use reusables. Paper bags have an effect on the environment also," said Kasa.
All three area Safeways will hand out 100 free reusable bags a day to the first 100 customers. Stores such as Staff of Life and New Leaf Community Markets donate money to charity for each person who uses a reusable bag.