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After a COVID-19 Hiatus, Plastic Bag Bans are Back

As plastic bag bans continue to be at the forefront of the sustainability movement, more states in the U.S. are taking initiative to get rid of the grocery store staple that plagues our environment every day. California has been a leader in this initiative, introducing a statewide ban of the bags as early as 2014. Today, eight states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont—ban the use of plastic bags in supermarkets and other businesses. There are hundreds more municipal bans across the country including ones in Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. to mention a few. 

Why are bag bans so necessary? Plastic bags are only used for an average of 12 minutes, but their impact lasts much longer than one may think. While plastic bags may be convenient for a quick trip to the grocery store, their composition takes about 300 years to photodegrade and thus makes the impact of one bag more than triple the life span of one person. Not only do these bags hurt our waste systems, but their presence in ocean life harms aquatic animals through water contamination. Sea turtles and birds specifically are at risk of choking on the bags as they mistake plastic for food. There is clearly a need for the abolishment of these items in order to create a cleaner Earth. 

Are bans working? Science points to yes. A data set created by the Scientist Action and Advocacy Network shows that plastic bag bans across the globe have shown a continuous pattern of increasing usage of reusable bags after bans have been put into place. From England’s 2015 tax leading to a 90% drop in plastic bag distribution from retailers to Chicago’s 2017 tax nearly tripling the number of people who didn’t use plastic bags, the results are the same across the board. Taxing or banning plastic bags means a higher awareness around this cause, as well as a lower likelihood of opting for said bags in the first place. In addition to plastic bag bans, more and more cities are implementing similar bans on single-use straws and Styrofoam takeout containers, all of which are good for the environment.  

The pandemic did briefly bring this issue to a halt, as California issued a temporary lift on their ban in response to concerns around reusable bags spreading germs. The ban has now been reinstated, with the option for shoppers to bag their own groceries in avoiding possible contact. Reusable bags may be safer in this case, as no contact with a second-party grocer is necessary at checkout. 

Eco Promotional Products provides a wide range of totes and pouches so the transition to reusable bags is as easy and convenient as possible. Our collection of foldable tote bags, for example, are compact so they don’t take up much room in a purse, backpack or briefcase. The accessibility of these bags also means you’ll never forget your tote for a quick stop at the store. For bigger trips requiring something heavy-duty, our best-selling insulated tote bags will keep your perishable items cold until you get home. Unlike single-use plastic bags, these bags are made from sturdy, long-lasting polypropylene. Whatever your need, Eco Promotional Products is guaranteed to have the right reusable bag. You may be grateful you can say no to single-use plastic bags.