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Reusable Bags: Don't Leave Home Without One

If you go shopping in neighboring Santa Monica, you'll no longer be offered a plastic bag.

Palisadians may not have noticed the hubbub down the hill, but Santa Monica has changed the way shoppers manage their purchases by banning single-use plastic bags.

But that's not the first place to insitute such a ban.

IKEA shoppers know the drill all too well. After paying for your candles, flowerpots, rye bread, frozen meatballs and desk organizers, if you didn't bring your own plastic bag, you're faced with the daunting task of carrying all your new possessions to your car in your arms.

And that's what confronts anyone who shops at Santa Monica markets as of Sept. 1.

Because of a new law banning single-use plastic bags in Santa Monica, shoppers will either have to bring in their own bag or purchase paper bags for 10 cents each.

Why is Santa Monica banning single-use plastic bags? According to a statement on the city's website, "The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carryout bags, and promote a shift toward the use of reusable bags."

Also according to the city's website, the ban focuses on the food markets' use of plastic bags with handles. Plastic bags will be allowed where produce is sold. In addition, single-use plastic bags can be used by restaurants "for the transportation of takeout food and liquids intended for consumption off of the food provider's premises," according to the site. The city stated restaurants are exempt in this instance because of health issues and to keep the contents from leaking.

For years, markets such as  in the Village and Trader Joe's have encouraged shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. If you brought your own bag, you were entered into a weekly drawing. Gelson's offered a $25 gift certificate, while Trader Joe's featured a paper bag filled with specialty food items.

Reusable bags are also seen frequently at farmers markets. Judging from the majority of people at the Palisades Sunday Farmers Market who bring their own reusable bags, Palisadians won't have a problem adjusting to the change. But in Santa Monica there will certainly be a period of adjustment.

Shoppers will have to retrain themselves to always bring bags with handles. Forgetting a reusable bag means either going home empty-handed or juggling apples, lettuce and oranges on the way to your car.

When asked if she was ready for the plastic bag ban, Laura Avery, the manager of the Santa Monica farmers markets, responded with a grin. "I am so ready. I'll put everything in my pockets," she said. After laughing, she admitted that "I have my bag."

James Birch of Flora Bella Farm, a longtime vendor at the Wednesday Santa Monica market, said jokingly that "people will miss their bags. You'll be able to buy them in the alley … behind the dumpster."

There will be moments of annoyance, but most people expect to take the change in stride.

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Douglas Lober September 03, 2011 at 03:16 PM
At this point I think almost everyone has a bag. Its now an issue of being respondible enough to pre-plan and remember the darn thing when you leave the house. As they say though, "Practice Makes Perfect" right! Doug http://reusethisbag.com
David Latt September 04, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Absolutely right. I always bring a bag to the farmers market...except today when I was rushed and forgot, so I had to carry my apples and oranges in my arms. I won't forget again. Promise.
Project GreenBag September 09, 2011 at 07:00 AM
Project GreenBag is the sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags. 100% organic cotton, biodegradable, and made in San Francisco California. http://www.ProjectGreenBag.com http://www.facebook.com/ProjectGreenBag http://twitter.com/projectgreenbag
Leon Embry November 17, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Only question is what took so long for this to happen? This has been a practice in Europe and elsewhere for a long time. It's a step toward saving marine life, not to mention reducing the unsightly clutter of plastic bags strewn everywhere. Leon Embry

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