Los Angeles News

Plastic-bag ban begins in unincorporated Los Angeles County

Friday, July 01, 2011

Don't forget to bring your own bags if you're going shopping in any of the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. A ban on plastic shopping bags is just one of several new laws that went into effect Friday.

Shoppers are learning to deal with the new plastic bag ban.

"I'm kind of left out in the cold without people saying 'Paper or plastic,'" said Altadena resident Kenny White.

Paper bags or reusable bags are now White's only options. Plastic bags have been banned in unincorporated L.A. County, affecting more than a million people who live here.

Some went shopping Friday, prepared for the change. But not everybody.

"This morning it is like, 'Oh man, I forgot my bags,' so I'm going to go back home, get my bags, come back, and shop," said Altadena shopper Pauline Thorpe.

Now that plastic is out, stores want you to bring a reusable bag. If you don't, your only option is a paper bag. Stores will charge 10 cents for each paper bag.

"To me, it doesn't make any sense," said Altadena shopper Mark Roe. "We could have just kept doing what we're doing. I don't think it would have affected the Earth."

"They look like tumbleweeds on the side of the freeway," said Altadena shopper Brett Kiesel. "It's modern man's tumbleweed."

"The funny thing about this country is when you start hitting them in their wallet, then they start changing," said Altadena shopper Dee Oliver.

Santa Monica already made the change with a plastic bag ban that began in March. Long Beach's ban starts next month.

Last September in Sacramento lawmakers voted down a statewide plastic bag ban, but there's pressure to bring it up again.

As for the unincorporated areas of L.A. County, the ban only affects large stores selling more than $2 million, for now.

Smaller stores must comply by January.

At Patticakes Desert Company, owner Mike McLellan doesn't look forward to that day.

"Ten, 12 years ago, they were pumping up plastic, how it was the savior, save the trees, plastic bottles, they had a little song," said McLellan. "They had a whole campaign for plastic. Now that's all gone."

At the Ralphs store in Altadena, people walking in without their reusable bags is common enough that the store will place extra staff outside during peak hours reminding people to go back and get their reusable bags.

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