11/09/2016 Update: Six years after this post was written, California has FINALLY banned plastic bags across the state!
I’m pissed off. I live in a city, like many others in California, that wants to ban plastic shopping bags, but we can’t. Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and other California cities are under attack by the plastics industry. None of these cities has been able to put their plastic bag bans into effect because of industry deep pockets that have successfully sued to require each city to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) showing that banning plastic bags would not have a detrimental impact.
Our cities cannot afford to spend $150,000 to $200,000 each to conduct EIRs. That’s why nothing has come of Oakland’s bag ban or any of the others. My city can’t afford to keep enough cops on the streets (just ask Michael, who got mugged several months ago right across from our house), much less pay thousands of dollars to prove plastic bags suck. City by city bag initiatives are not going to work. We need action on the state level. And we need it THIS WEEK.
Whether you live in California or know someone who lives in California, you can help. And it won’t take any more time than finishing a cup of coffee. Probably not even that long. The steps are simple. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included easy, automated ways to contact your legislators and ask them to support AB 1998.
AB 1998: What does it do?
State Assembly Bill 1998, authored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, would ban all single-use carry-out plastic bags from California stores and require stores to charge a .25 “green bag fee” for all paper bags. The “green bag fee” would be remitted to a new state Paper Bag Pollution Cleanup Fund. Discouraging both paper and plastic bags should eliminate the need for an EIR, since the question of whether plastic is worse than paper would be off the table.
AB 1998 was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will be voted upon this coming Friday by the full Assembly. If passed and signed by the governor, the law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012. We have ONE WEEK to ask our assembly members to support his bill!
Ask your Legislators to Pass AB 1998
Environmental organizations across California have set up ways for you to contact your legislators about this bill. Here are several of them. Please choose an option and go for it. If you only have time to click a button and fill in your info, please do that. If you have more time and can add a personal message, that’s even better. But whatever you do, please DO SOMETHING.
- Environment California has set up their Big push on banning plastic bags action page. The only required information is your name and email address. This one is the easiest option, but it’s not going to get your message to your specific legislator. Choose this option if you are running out the door and truly have no time do more.
- Heal the Bay’s AB 1998 Action Letter requires your name, full street address, and email address. Heal the Bay will print out the letters and deliver them to Assembly member Brownley.
- Californians Against Waste’s AB 1998 Support Letter page uses your address to send a letter to your specific assembly member. First, you put in your zip code, then address if required. This is my favorite one because it allows you to contact the legislator who works for you!
- Faxing letters is even more effective than emailing them. To make more of an impact, use the information generated by Californians Against Waste’s AB 1998 Support Letter page to print and fax a letter directly to your assembly member, with your personal signature. I would suggest snail mail too, but at this point, there might not be enough time.
All 3 sites include a form letter that you can personalize if you have time. Adding a sentence about why banning plastic bags is important to you helps a lot!
Know anyone in California?
If you don’t live in California, you can still help by forwarding this information to anyone… anyone at all… you know who lives in California. Forward this blog post. Or forward any of the above links. Just let them know this is an important issue to you, we only have a week to go, and we need their support.
Blog, Tweet, Facebook this Information!
You can link back to this page or create your own page. I don’t care. But if you have a blog or are connected to a network through Twitter or Facebook or other types of social media, please send out this information to your people. Let them know time is of the essence. Ask them to not only send a letter themselves, but to forward to their networks as well.
Remember: Our personal actions matter. Refusing plastic bags at the grocery store is important. But imagine a world in which there are no plastic bags to refuse. It doesn’t have to be a wishful thought. We can make it happen!