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Community News

How’s the plastic bag ban working?

REGION — It was a close margin last November, but in the end California Voters approved the ban of single-use plastic grocery bags by 52 percent.

It’s been almost a year now, so how are people faring without the bags?

Several people questioned in North County said the ban has caused little trouble other than needing to remember to bring their own reusable bags with them when they visit a store. Oh, and pet owners have had to find another source for disposal of their pet waste.

“It took a while, but now I remember to bring my bags to the store,” said Carla Rodriquez of Oceanside.

Matt Lavoice said sometimes he remembers the bags are still in his truck when he is inside the store, but that he is getting better.

“At some time it will click in for all of us,” Lavoice said.

When asked, many residents agreed that the little annoyances are worth helping the environment.

Mak Rowan of Cardiff-by-the-Sea said he has not been bothered at all by the ban.

“It’s a better idea because it is better for the environment,” said Rowan.

Chris Iverson said she still has trouble remembering her bags, but thinks it’s funny seeing people juggling armloads of groceries out to their cars to avoid paying a dime for a reusable bag provided by the store.

Colleen Foster, senior management analyst for the city of Oceanside, said she has seen a very quick shift overnight of shoppers at the grocery store who forgot their bags asking the clerk to just put their purchases back into the cart so they can wheel them out their vehicle.

Also, she said, at beach clean-ups there has been a reduction in plastic bags, which used to be the No. 1 pick-up item.

“We just held one at Buccaneer Beach in August and we didn’t pick up one single plastic bag,” she said.

Solid waste drivers are seeing a reduction in the bags which cause trouble in their collection systems, she added.

“Overall, in general, we have not seen them flying around on the ground and that is what is neat about it,” Foster said.

Becca Kuntz of I Love A Clean San Diego, which does beach clean-ups regularly, said the number of littered plastic bags began to decrease a couple of years ago due to the education of the public about their dangers to the environment. But now there is a noticeable change.

“We have noticed that they (the plastic bags) are no longer on our top 10 list of (trash),” Kuntz said.

San Luis Obispo County banned the single-use bags in 2012 with positive results.

“We have a whole lot less litter and bags blowing around,” said Bill Worrell, manager of the Integrated Waste Management Authority in San Luis Obispo County. He pointed out that other countries have been involved in ridding themselves of plastic grocery bags.

A report from the BBC states the highly populated country of Bangladesh was one of the very first in 2002.

Many countries including Ireland, China, Italy and parts of Africa were among the first to phase out of the plastic bags because of the dire impact to the environment.

They are not biodegradable and many end up becoming part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has been described as larger than the start of Texas in the ocean.  Thousands of sea animals die each year from ingesting the bags, according to the BBC. On land, many animals eat the bags and die. In countries like Bangladesh, they clog sewers and waterways.

Lavoice said he has solved his dog waste disposal problems by shopping at Amazon, which offers a number of biodegradable bags at a very reasonable price.