Hannah Bellich

In October 2013, the Santa Barbara City Council finalized an approval to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and convenience stores. Many other cities have also put a ban on single-use plastic bags, leading to a proposed statewide proposition on the November ballot banning single-use plastic bags throughout California.

The proposed law is controversial as many people feel burdened by having to bring their own reusable bag or pay an extra ten cents for a paper bag to transport their groceries. Others, including myself, believe that there are positives associated with the banning of plastic bags that outweigh the minor inconveniences some suggest.

Plastic bags are detrimental to many aspects of the world around us. Just think about how many plastic bags you see hanging on bushes or blowing through the streets as you ride your bike through Isla Vista. Not only are these plastic bags an eye-sore that can make even the most beautiful city look trashy, but they also pose a severe threat to the oceans and marine life that are literally right in our backyards.

I love the ocean. I love waking up early and strolling down to the beach to listen to the serene sounds of the waves crashing and the birds chirping. However, the sort of ambiance that this moment holds is often interrupted when a few plastic bags are caught underneath some of the rocks by the shore, or when a plastic bag blows by in the breeze. Although the nuisance these plastic bags cause to my attempted peaceful, relaxation time is disappointing, what’s even more disappointing is knowing all of the harmful effects these plastic bags cause to the entire environment around us.

Besides the fact that plastic bags are not degradable or recyclable, they also hold less items than the reusable grocery bag or even the paper bags (which are recyclable and reusable). For example, my roommate made a trip to Target in Ventura recently and came back with a plethora of plastic bags filled with groceries among other items. She had nine plastic bags full of items. Before she put any of the items away I asked her if I could possibly repack her groceries into a few reusable grocery bags I had in the cabinet.

While repacking, she was astonished by how many items I could fit into my reusable bags; I ended up packing her nine plastic bags full of groceries into two reusable bags that were much more manageable to carry. Banning plastic bags is not a major inconvenience. Carrying two reusable bags up the stairs to my apartment is much easier than making multiple trips to carry nine plastic bags that have a much greater potential of ripping, dispersing my groceries across the parking lot of my apartment complex.

So, when November rolls around and you find yourself voting on whether or not California should impose a ban on the use of plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores, consider the fact that not only are you aiding in saving the environment one bag at a time, but you are also creating an easier trip to the grocery store for yourself.