Bags and Bottled Water: California and Chicago move to Ban Plastics

plastic bags
Plastic Pollution

plastic bagsCities like Los Angeles have already banned plastic bags. As a matter of fact, the state of California is considering the first state-wide ban of its kind. Hawaii has banned them at checkout counters and Chicago is considering a similar proposal. In San Francisco, who long ago went without bags, water bottles may be the next to go. All in an increasing awareness of our pollution problem and a push to be more environmentally conscious.

Beginning in 2007, more than 100 municipalities in California have banned plastic bags. Shoppers use paper or they bring their own. And while some complain about the inconvenience, it’s a small price to pay for the amount of waste saved.

These bags fill landfills, get stuck on fences, in storm drains, and are snagged in tree tops on windy days. As the New York Times reports, they are even a pain to recycle as they tend to jam the sorting machines.

One of the most recent cities to join the push against plastic is Chicago, where the lead Alderman backing the proposal says he believes he has enough support for it to be made  law.

Not surprisingly the Illinois Retail Merchants Association has spoken out against the bill, saying it would increase costs and would ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has remained neutral on the matter.

But Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) says something needs to be done. He says around 3.7 million plastic bags are being used each year in the Windy City, many of them becoming litter.

As for San Francisco, plastic bags are no longer the concern—they banned the bags several years ago. Now, they are on to plastic water bottles, aiming to start by banning their sale at events on city property. As an alternative, the hope is that more water refilling stations will be placed throughout the city.

“We all know with climate change, and the importance of combatting climate change, San Francisco has been leading the way to fight for our environment,” said City Supervisor David Chiu, who wrote the bill. “That’s why I ask you to support this ordinance to reduce and discourage single-use, single-serving plastic water bottles in San Francisco.”

Bottled water never used to be a “thing.” If you wanted water, you got it in a cup or you brought your own. Now, the bottled water industry is a $60 billion a year business, and contributes as much to litter and pollution as it does hydration.

“I want to remind people that not long ago, our world was not addicted to plastic water bottles,” he said. “Before (the 1990s), for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated.”