California: 1st state to ban plastic bags

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

plastic bag ban
Plastic bags can choke or tangle up sea turtles.

While manmade pollution traps the Sun’s heat and causes global warming, trash is piling up in landfills and harming wildlife. Americans generate upwards of 250 million tons of trash annually and Californians go through 13 billion single-use plastic bags a year! Now, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the first statewide law in the USA banning plastic bags.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks, and even the vast ocean itself,” said Gov. Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

The ban will be introduced in phases, with grocery stores and pharmacies forced to stop handing out the bags by July 1, 2015. They’ll have to start charging 10 cents for paper bags and reusable plastic ones, as will convenience stores and liquor stores by 2016. If anyone breaks the rules, they may face fines of up to $5,000.

Plastic bags cause a lot of damage to the environment, harming rivers, beaches, oceans, and parks. They don’t decompose quickly over time, and can tangle up critters like birds and sea turtles. While plastic is a very convenient material to use, it makes up 60-80 percent of marine litter. There’s also a human cost, since the bags end up clogging storm drains and costing millions to clean up. Businesses that produce plastic bags are unhappy with the law, saying that it will cost jobs and harm their profits.

Featured image courtesy of Bunches and Bits on Flickr. Image of turtle courtesy of Bag Monster on Flickr.