By Shirley Hawkins
A new law in Los Angeles prohibits grocery stores from distributing free single-use plastic bags. Los Angeles, with a population of approximately 3.8 million, is the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags.
Millions of shoppers are now required to bring their own bags or pay 10 cents per paper bag provided by the grocery store. The law is slated to be enforced on smaller markets and liquor stores starting on July 1.
The new law, which passed in June and went into effect Wednesday, caught many shoppers by surprise. Haywood Dixon, who was exiting Food for Less after buying bottled water and several bags of potato chips, carried his purchases out without buying a bag.
“I didn’t have that many purchases, so I didn’t need to buy a bag,” explained Dixon. “It’s strange to go shopping in the grocery store and not see the free bags though, because they’ve been in the markets forever. I don’t remember voting for that plastic bag law. It must have passed pretty fast.”
“I heard that they were going to discontinue the plastic bags, so I started saving them about a month ago,” said Vernice Atkins, who carried her groceries out in several saved bags. “I’m sorry to see them go, but I know that they were affecting the environment.”
Nearly 90 cities and counties in the state have passed similar legislation in an effort to stop the disposable bags from ending up in the ocean that threaten fish and wildlife.
Shoppers must now bring reusable bags to supermarkets like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Vons and Ralphs and convenience marts like 7-Eleven. Stores such as Wal-Mart and Target have also banned the bags.
Other cities that have banned plastic bags include Long Beach, Santa Monica, Culver City, Glendale, Pasadena, West Hollywood, and Malibu.
Paper bags will cost 10 cents each and reusable bags will also be available, either free of charge or for sale. Implementation of the law will take nearly two billion plastic carryout bags out of circulation just in Los Angeles.