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Poll: What do you think about L.A.'s new ban on plastic bags?

May 23, 2012|By Jon Healey
  • Andy Keller (of a company called ChicoBag) demonstrates in 2010 in favor of a ban on plastic bags at Los Angeles supermarkets.
Andy Keller (of a company called ChicoBag) demonstrates in 2010 in favor… (Los Angeles Times )

Attention, Los Angeles shoppers: Time to start stocking up on cheap canvas tote bags.

The City Council agreed Wednesday to require supermarkets to stop using plastic bags in 10 months (for large stores) to 16 months (for smaller shops). The ban, which The Times' editorial board supported, responds to complaints from environmental activists that the bags are polluting waterways and filling landfills.

I get that point. The sheer number of bags that the city's approximately 7,500 markets pump into the ecosystem daily is overwhelming. Anyone who doubts that should conduct this experiment: See how many bags your household collects over the course of a month.

Critics -- particularly the companies that make plastic bags -- argue that the ban will destroy jobs. There's also the chance that the council is simply trading one environmental threat for another, as stores shift en masse to paper bags (for which customers will be charged 10 cents apiece, starting in a year).

The thing about disposable bags of any kind, though, is that they waste resources needlessly. They reflect an endless-frontier mind-set that just doesn't map to reality anymore. As much as I'd rather see the council use market-based mechanisms to shift behavior -- for example, by taxing bags instead of banning them -- its goal is the right one.

But what do you think? Take our wildly unscientific poll, leave a comment or do both!


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