It is time for La Cañada Flintridge to join our surrounding communities and move to reusable bags. We should do this not only for environmental reasons, but for cost savings, as well.
Los Angeles County made the move more than two years ago. Glendale’s ordinance went into effect July 1; the city of L.A. passed its ordinance in June and will implement it in January. Thirty percent of California and two-thirds of our county are now covered with ordinances banning plastic carryout bags.
Plastic bags are light and blow around and they degrade very slowly. As a result, they contribute to the litter on our streets and freeways and around the Scholl Canyon landfill. They also get into our storm drains and the L.A. River, and end up on our beaches. They have caused harm to many species of marine animals and small children still suffocate in them from time to time.
And how about money? The plastic and paper bags that are currently used by our big stores are not free. The cost, estimated to be $18 to $30 per person per year, is built into the price of our food. And a recent National Resources Defense Council study showed that Californians are paying almost $500 million per year to clean up litter and trash. La Cañada Flintridge estimates about $150,000/year for street sweeping and storm drain clean-out. L.A. County pays about $23 million per year and that is included in our property tax bills. So there is money to be saved at every level.
These ordinances apply to the big grocery stores and pharmacies and later to convenience stores. Our city is proud of being a Tree City USA. We now have the opportunity to help clean up our streets and to develop our reputation as a green city. Please contact your City Council members and urge them to pass a reusable bag ordinance. In the meantime, we can all voluntarily use reusable bags and refuse plastic bags when they are pushed on us at the big stores.
R. Rhoads (“Rody”) Stephenson
La Cañada Flintridge