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County Plastic Ban Starts Today; Get Your Free Canvas Bags

The nonprofit ocean preservation group Save Our Shores helped push through a ban on plastic bags to save the ocean.

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.

Tim Goncharoff March 20, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Hi Brad, The County's ordinance actually affects about 400 businesses, even without the restaurants.
Jennifer March 21, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I don't understand why some people are calling it a tax on the plastic bag. The way I see it it is an amount you pay to buy the plastic bag. By paying for something that used to be free, people should: 1. Think before they ask for a plastic bag for things that they had carried in their hands all the way to the cashier (I find most of the times the way to the cashier is longer than the way from the cashier to the car!), 2. Reuse the bag that they have purchased, and 3. Remember the impact plastic has on the environment (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=plastic-not-so-fantastic) And regarding all the comments about job losses; after the invention of personal computers, the typewriting industry has lost all of its jobs. This is progress. Instead of complaining we should find ways to create more useful jobs for these people not keep on consuming plastic so that they can keep their jobs.
Brad Kava (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Thanks Tim. Maybe I was reading the number for Santa Cruz city? Are people on food stamps exempt from paying for paper bags?
Lisa March 21, 2012 at 01:38 PM
A big thumbs up to Jennifer. But I'm confused. This ban is only in the UNincorporated areas of SC County? WTH is up with that?
Rachel Griffin March 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Thanks for reporting about this issue. It shouldn't be a surprise that we'd have to pass a law banning something that many of us gave up years ago. A cynical friend of mine pointed out that if "it's not mandatiry, it's banned." Hmmm. Maybe we can start looking at OTHER things which have become polluting and really make no sense. For instance, leaf blowers? Get rid of them and you PRODUCE work for someone. Just an idea...
Lisa March 21, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I am an user of recyclable bags though I often forget to bring them and end up doing it "Costco style". Do you know if this ban includes the small ones we use for meat and produce? I have always perferred to wrap my meat in plastic because I do not want it contaminating my bags and already having to wash 3-4 loads a day my bags are one less thing I have to wash.
Fred March 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Go green Made in the USA Canvas totes Ztotes
Felix. April 01, 2012 at 04:32 AM
What a bunch of freakin hippies. You guys think your improving the world with your Orwellian Nonsense,find a few pictures of animals with plastic bags wrapped around them and break people's hearts. But what about the poor welfare mother who buys perhaps 10 bags of groceries per week, that comes out to $52 per year out of her children's bellies and into the hands of corporations.
Brad Kava (Editor) April 01, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Felix: People on food stamps are exempt from paying for the bags.

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