Plastic bag ban in Long Beach…..why or why not?

Fellow Long Beach resident, mother, and sustainable interior designer, Amanda Moore, wanted me to post the following piece:

We all know that Long Beach is a small, yet diverse community with all the benefits of a city structure in a relatively small town. Most would agree that our biggest asset is the recreation and beauty that our beaches and bays provide, but most impressively, Long Beach truly has something for everyone. Households with children are a small but growing sector of the population here.  But even if you don’t personally have any stake in the next generation, when was the last time you enjoyed swimming alongside floating plastic bags, or watching the sun set over a polluted bay? Maybe you haven’t heeded the call to “go green” just yet (although the 2nd Annual GreenFest in Kennedy Plaza on May 21st was certainly abuzz with locals throughout the day), but most of us can at least see some of the problems at hand.

Southampton Village, another small coastal town like ours, recently took a groundbreaking stand for the protection of their waterways, aquatic life, and the health of the planet and the future generations that will inherit it. At the end of April, the town board passed a bill banning the distribution of reusable plastic bags under a certain size. Retailers will be required to phase them out within 6 months. Less toxic paper options can be offered, but the core intention of the ban is to encourage residents to carry reusable bags that make no contribution to our landfill overcrowding, won’t blow in the wind and get entangled in trees or float in our waters, killing sealife who mistake them for food. Perhaps the most profound reason for the ban is that no plastic bag ever made has yet to fully decompose (they’ve only been around for half a century or so and the process is estimated to take 100’s of years, but in truth, no one really knows). And as they do start to break down, the petrochemicals in them break down too, leaching into our groundwater systems.

I guess I could go on and on here, but that’s not why I’m writing this. This is just the background that gets me to the true intent of this outreach: to see if Long Beach could ever propose, execute and live with such legislation.  All change is typically resisted at first and I can just imagine the abundance of opposing reasons, but I want to hear it directly from the people that live and play here. And, hey, if you support the idea, I want to hear from you too!!

Just for fun, I recently called the 3 largest grocery stores in our town and discovered that, combined, they distribute an estimated 3.5 MILLION PLASTIC BAGS every year.  They all have recycling bins for them, but pointed out that only a small fraction are returned for recycling.  And not to mention that there are those who prefer paper bags and the rare few like myself that ONLY uses reusable bags, an easy habit with a little consistent practice and a set of bags always in the trunk.  When you think of this city’s relatively small population, that’s A LOT of plastic bags per household.

So please share your thoughts…..plastic bag ban in Long Beach…..why or why not? Please post your comments here on Sea By the City or at my blog baby green.

For more information about plastic bag usage and waste, check out the Bag It home page or this brief list of facts on cleanair.org.  To read a little about Southampton Village’s bag ban, click here.

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12 thoughts on “Plastic bag ban in Long Beach…..why or why not?”

  1. Westport CT has also done this with success. Reusable bags are everywhere and very reasonable to purchase. It would do the environment good as well a save local businesses money. It would also be a draw for like-minded families and eco-business too. I think it’s a great idea.
    IKEA started this by charging for their plastic bags. Pay for a single use or pay a few pennies more for reusable. That might be a great way to start.

  2. I, too, would like to see trees with no plastic bags stuck in them. I am guilty of using plastic bags to bring home my groceries, but then I reuse them as garbage bags, rather than buy plastic garbage bags. Paper bags do not work as kitchen trash bags, so what is the ecological solution here?

  3. I try to bring my own bags, but sometimes I end up with plastic. I re-use them, having 2 dogs…but I’ve noticed that a lot of the bags made specifically for picking up dog waste claim that they’re biodegradable, maybe some sort of bamboo? Why don’t stores look into using materials other than plastic? At least make them out of recycled plastics if possible.

  4. When did the City By The Sea turn into San Francisco by the Sea?

    Please keep the more annoying parts of your green agenda to yourselves.

  5. Jim, I’m not sure what you mean. This is an independent blog and we welcome all point of views. If you want to write an article stating how you want more plastic bag use in Long Beach, we will post it.

    Most of the people that email me seem to be very concerned about the environment. If this isn’t something you want to read, then don’t read those articles. It’s as simple as that.

  6. Anthony, I applaud you for hosting a forum for all viewpoints. The intention of my plastic bag ban write-up was to hear feedback from both sides – the why’s and the why not’s – but intriguingly the only real input was from a few respondents who care about the environment. Those who apparently don’t want to read about green initiatives, or who genuinely don’t give a s*%t, just had snide remarks to toss out. But I guess I have one snide remark of my own……when did the fate of our planet and future generations become less important than a riot in Long Beach, NY? Both are important, just in different realms. Apples and oranges. Children growing up without respect for themselves, each other, the law, resources, nature and so on…..those are the kids disturbing the peace and those that will continue to grow our society’s problems, rather than fix them.

  7. Amanda, I agree with you 100%. This is an independent blog that doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Sure, I have opinions and I will express them. I care about the environment and I think a plastic bag ban is more important than the riots.

    But, If anybody wants to write about the riots, the environment or anything else that pertains to Long Beach, I will post it. Just like what Amanda did. Like I said, if you want to write an article on why we need more plastic bags here in Long Beach, I will post it. I might not agree with you, but that doesn’t mean your voice won’t be heard. Also, please understand that not every article on this site is for everybody.

    This is basically how blogs work. We aren’t a newspaper. Just because a major news item happens in Long Beach, that doesn’t mean we are going to give you a 100% top notch report. Blogs are more about expressing opinions – something that news sources don’t (shouldn’t) do.

    A Blog is a WEB LOG; Seabythecity is an online diary of Long Beach.

  8. Amanda & the Admin, I’m with you guys on a plastic bag ban. I had to post after reading your last two comments.

    A few weeks ago I went fishing out of Freeport and I couldn’t believe how many plastic bags there were floating in the bay. It actually made me ill. I told my wife and she directed me towards this blog and this post. I’ve been following every since.

    I might not have the same environmental beliefs as you guys, but even as an issue of garbage. Why do people not care if our environment is filthy? I would gladly pay the premium for a biodegradable bag, if need be.

    -Tom from lido

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