It has been 44 years since Dustin Hoffman was told in the film The Graduate that the future was one word: plastics. That future is now, and it strikes me as downright scary.
It's time to start making the world a better place, beginning right here in Lemon Grove by ditching single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable bags.
Did you know?
- Each year Californians use about 19 billion plastic bags., according to EnvironmentAmerica.org, an environmental advocacy group. They are made from oil, a nonrenewable energy source. The average use time for each bag is about 12 minutes. Then what happens to these plastic bags, which never fully biodegrade? When exposed to the elements, they slowly break down over time into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic—but never truly go away. Ultimately, they turn into plastic dust. Along the way, the tiny toxic pieces end up in our food, water, soil, and (some think) our bodies.
- No animal can eat them, but many try and suffer the consequences. Plastic bags can easily be mistaken for food or prey. In the ocean, they can take on the look of a jellyfish and many species, including seabirds, marine mammals, fish, and sea turtles, are killed by ingestion or entanglement. The Problem With Marine Debris, a California Coastal Commission publication, details how plastic bags and other trash harm wildlife and people.
What we need is a change in our collective behavior pattern to replace a bad habit with a good one. We must stop looking at plastic bags as trash. We have to begin using reusable bags all the time. Start with at least three reusable bags, so you have no excuses for not having one with you. Make it easy—keep one in your car, one by your door, and one in your hand when you go to the store.
All three of Lemon Grove’s supermarkets offer reusable bags for sale. Some even give customers rewards for using them— (soon to be Sprouts) gives a 5 cent credit for each recyclable bag you use. (The Earth Day bag currently available was designed by Lola Taylor, a second grader at Park Dale Elementary School in Encinitas who last month.)
The city of San Jose recently passed a law, effective next year, prohibiting markets and others shops from giving away single-use plastic bags. Retailers could be fined up to $1,000 for violations. Stores will be allowed to sell paper bags made of partially recycled materials for 10 cents each, which will gradually increase to 25 cents.
In the California legislature last year was AB1998, a bill that propsed a ban on single-use plastic bags in the state in 2013. Plastic bag producers and the trade group American Chemistry Council opposed the legislation. One can imagine the amount of money being made on 19 billion bags a year in just one state.
So, Lemon Grove, how do you feel about banning the ubiquitous plastic bag? I say bag it!
Editor's note: A previous version of this story showed AB1998 as being currently before the legislature.