Local grocery stores will offer extra incentives on Dec. 20 for Los Angeles shoppers who bring their own reusable bags.
The sixth annual "Day Without a Bag" is sponsored by Heal the Bay, a local nonprofit, and will likely be the last event as the city ordinance banning plastic bags is set to take effect May 23, 2013. Select grocery stores will distribute free reusable bags on Dec. 20 and offer additional discounts for customers who use their own.
Heal the Bay is offering a $100 Vons gift card, t-shirts and other prizes. Albertsons will distribute free reusable bags across all its L.A. city stores from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Ralph’s will offer triple its reusable bag rebate.
"We’re hoping that this holiday season will be the last time Angelenos will see plastic bags as they do their gift shopping," said Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay’s programs director, in a statement. "We want shoppers to get in the habit of using the reusable bags stashed in their closets and car trunks all year round. Bringing your own reusable bag is one of the easiest ways to have a positive impact on your own neighborhood and improve the health of our oceans."
Los Angeles will join dozens of other California cities that have already adopted plastic bag bans, including Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Hollywood.
L.A., along with many other cities, moved forward with a plastic bag ban ordinance after a California Supreme Court in July 2011 ruled that cities should not have to conduct an environmental impact report before imposing a bag ban.
The decision nullified lawsuits filed by Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, an organization comprised of plastic industry executives that claimed small cities must conduct a costly and time-consuming EIR.
It argued that paper bags are actually better for the environment than plastic. For example, paper bags release CO2 and methane when they degrade, but plastic bags don’t, it says.
Other opponents have also vowed to sue California cities on the basis that the common 10-cent fee for paper bags violates Proposition 26, which requires a two-thirds supermajority vote in the California Legislature to levy certain taxes and fee. However, this may not have legal standing because the city does not collect the fee, but rather the business keeps it.
There has been a 95 percent reduction in plastic bag distribution since L.A. County banned plastic bags in July 2011 in unincorporated L.A. County, according to Heal the Bay.
Cities and municipalities spend as much as $25 million to collect and dispose plastic bag waste, and less than 5 percent are recycled annually in Los Angeles, according to Heal the Bay.
To enter the Heal the Bay $100 gift card contest, take a picture of yourself or anyone using their reusable bag and post it to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #RockinReusable and tag @HealtheBay to enter.