California could become the first state in the country to ban plastic bags, hopefully making sights like this less common. Photo via Flickr: Katerha

California could become the first state in the country to ban plastic bags, hopefully making sights like this less common. Photo via Flickr: Katerha

Seeing as in my relatively young career as an environmental journalist, I’ve amassed enough reusable bags to last from now till eternity (canvas, hemp, jute, polypropylene, nylon, you name it!), I think I’m pretty well positioned for a plastic bag ban in California, which looks like it may actually happen.

Earlier this month, the state Assembly passed AB 1998, which would require grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores to provide reusable bags and charge at least 5 cents to customers in need of a disposable one. Now in the Senate, it was approved yesterday by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a 5-2 vote.

Next up: the Senate Appropriations Committee, where the fate of 19 billion plastic bags a year (that’s how many we use here in California; a mere 5 percent of them are recycled) will be decided.

I pray that it passes, if only to imagine the dumbfounded reaction of the lady I encountered yesterday in the checkout line of the supermarket. She asked for her purchase — a lone toothbrush — to be double bagged.

–Jennifer Grayson

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