By Tom Moore
In recent weeks my job has taken me into the depths of Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. I noticed that if I stopped to buy something, I was automatically given a plastic bag for my purchase. This was a shock to me since the infamous San Luis Obispo County Bag Ban began. On October 1st of 2012, Chicken Little and Friends were in a panic; they would never be able to shop again or worse, they may have to supply their own bags!
But something incredible happened. Within six months of the ban I noticed the litter that was strewn along San Luis Obispo County roads and highways was not only greatly reduced but the main offender, the plastic bag, wasn’t to be seen. They had become a valuable commodity, worth up to ten cents apiece (the price to purchase a bag if you forget to bring your own). Another shocker was that the dump, or landfill, has become cleaner. Previously, there were hundreds of bags floating around the dump’s landscape. Now you may see some old, degrading bags desperately hanging on to strands of barbed wire in a sad attempt to maintain their legacy.
What do I miss the most about plastic bags in our environment?
Seeing them floating into the heavens on a blustery day like Winnie-the-Pooh on his endless quest for “hunny”? No. Cleaning up the plastic island in front of my house the day after the garbage man cometh? Not very much.
San Luis Obispo was not the first county to ban the plastic bag, but they were among them. What could go next – Styrofoam fast food containers? Perhaps, plastic single use water bottles? I hope so.