I saw on the news this morning that Los Angeles, much like San Francisco did last year, will fully ban plastic bags by 2010. When I looked a little further, I found this artice from NPR dated March of this year, with plenty of examples from around the world that this trend of charging for-- or entirely banning-- the flimsy, disposable plastic bag is not new, nor is it unique. Ireland has apparently been charging customers upwards of twenty cents per bag since 2003, and some African countries have imposed "minimum thickness requirements" on the bags they distribute. Germany charges a recycling fee to retailers who offer plastic bags, and China's free plastic bag ban went into effect last month.
In this country, several smaller cities in California and Alaska have adopted similar bans, and a number of large cities have plastic-bag policies in the works. Chicago, however-- despite the city's claims that it is one of the greenest in the country-- is notably absent from this list.
I have a number of canvas totes that are in near-constant use, and all of them have plastic produce bags inside that I reuse until they fall apart. I also have a handy nylon bag that folds down smaller than a cell phone that I carry in my purse in the event of a spontaneous purchase. Despite my best efforts, I am not able to avoid the plastic bag entirely, and little irks me more than the double (or triple!) bagging required in stores that use the flimsiest of bags-- why should I need six bags to carry four items!? Even though I try (like many people) to reuse them-- usually as garbage bags-- not all of them are sturdy enough, and the city doesn't accept these bags for recycling, so I am left with no choice but to throw them away.
Whether you're for or against the plastic bag ban, I don't see this trend going away any time soon-- in fact, I think the movement is just beginning to pick up steam. And isn't it better to make the switch now while it's still a matter of choice, than to be forced to switch later as a result of a (what I think will be an inevitable) city ordinance? I'd like to think that it is.