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July 20, 2010 > Paper or plastic? No, thanks, I have my own

Paper or plastic? No, thanks, I have my own

Submitted By Meagan Miller

With a plastic bag ban in the offing for California this year, the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) wants residents to start taking action now to break the plastic-bag habit.

"Putting 'bring bag' at the top of your shopping list is an easy addition," said James Scanlin of BASMAA, a consortium of municipal stormwater pollution-prevention programs from around the region. "By the end of 2010, California may have a plastic bag ban in place, so we're prepping residents now to start using re-usable bags."

Seeing a plastic bag perched on a tree branch or hugging the pavement near a storm drain is a normal sight. Often these bags find their way into storm drains, local waterways and, eventually, the ocean. Plastic bags and plastic garbage represents nearly 90 percent of floating marine debris, according to the California Coastal Commission.

"Plastic bags are a huge environmental issue," says Scanlin of BASMAA. "Plastic never breaks down. It's little bits of litter, including plastics, that add up to the immense island of refuse floating in the Pacific."

According to the Earth Resource Foundation, over 100,000 marine animals die from plastic entanglement each year because they mistake plastic bags for food.

An analysis by the California State Assembly shows that Californians use 19 million plastic bags annually. From their very production (which entails use of petroleum), to the litter they create, to the havoc they have wreaked on the world's oceans, plastic bags are a major environmental issue.

BASMAA is asking Bay Area residents to make a renewed push toward using re-usable bags. There are incentives for consumers, too; many supermarkets have long offered five-cent bag credits and big box retailers like Target are now doing the same.

BASMAA offers these tips to residents to ensure they have re-usables at the ready:

¥ Keep a rolled up or Chico-style bag in your purse to have handy for quick shopping trips

¥ Leave re-usable bags by the front door near keys, cell phones and other must-have items.

¥ Place some in the trunk or on the front passenger seat of your car so they're easily available when running errands.

¥ Just say no! If buying a small item, just refuse a plastic bag from the store clerk.

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