Plastic bag ban: City Hall, don’t blow this chance to brand L.A.


Here’s something to celebrate for New Year’s Day 2013: The city of L.A. is finally banning plastic bags.

Goodbye, and high time too, to those wispy, blow-away plastic bags that wind up in all the wrong places, from treetops to sea turtles’ bellies.

Happily, the trope that is “paper or plastic?” will become as meaningless as “23 skidoo.”


But dear city fathers (and our one city mother, there being only one female elected official in City Hall), can we please, please, not blow this fantastic marketing opportunity and wind up looking lame once again?

The city is easing the transition to plastic baglessness by giving away a million free tote bags it’s having made thanks to environmental groups and nonprofits.

Angelenos, said City Councilman Paul Koretz, “will be carrying these around for decades.”

So what will they look like, these million message boards?

We don’t know! And we should. In fact, we should own this, before anyone owns a single bag.

I’m grateful to those nonprofits helping out with these bags, but this space should belong to the city. The city needs to create a city logo for those bags. If they are going to be carried around for years, as Koretz says, they should be imprinting a city message on the world’s cerebral cortex.

New York City has an official gift shop, for LaGuardia’s sake. It hawks jewelry, water bottles, refrigerator magnets, shirts, posters, things with “Big Apple” and the city seal on them. The city seal of New York, which has two beavers and a windmill on it — and still they can sell it!

And we aren’t marketing our city seal? Ours is vastly superior. It has a bear on it, not to mention an eagle, and a castle, and a crowned lion!

And do we have a swell gift shop selling great L.A. gear? No.

So get into gear, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Koretz et al, and let’s get it started. Begin right now with this grocery tote bag. Have a competition to design a logo for the city’s official bag.

If we’re the arts center of the universe, let’s man up and create something to show for it. Don’t leave the civic branding job to a neighborhood called Hollywood and its little golden statuette of a bald man with no pants on.

We’re a bigger place than that.

And don’t do some lame, touchy-feely Kumbaya recycling message. They’re already using the bag, aren’t they?

Here’s a little something to get the ball rolling:

An image of a big, juicy piece of homegrown navel citrus, and beneath it, the words, “… you glad you’re in LA?”

Get it? ORANGE you glad you’re in L.A.? Or maybe “LOS ANGELES -- (orange) you glad you’re here?”

Give it away in grocery stores — but in a limited release at first. You want to see it coveted, rare, marked up on EBay. Then start to sell it in airport gift shops and bookstores. Make a Dodgers version, with an orange baseball. Make a Christmas-in-L.A. version, an orange with a Santa hat and sunglasses.

And open a Los Angeles city gift shop, already. Even the L.A. County coroner’s office has a gift shop. What are we waiting for?


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