Arcata—A unanimous Arcata City Council voted tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, which applies to large grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and certain retailers, will take effect on February 1, 2014.
“This important step forward for Arcata shows yet again that we can achieve lasting victories for the ocean and our environment,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “Banning plastic bags is the right choice to protect our rivers, beaches, and the Pacific Ocean. I applaud the Town Council members for their leadership on this issue.”
Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items removed from California’s beaches by Ocean Conservancy volunteers. They are a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles studied had plastic in their stomachs, most often a plastic bag, according to an analysis of over 370 autopsies. A study by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association found that plastic shopping bags alone make up as much as 8 percent of the garbage that reaches the San Francisco Bay.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.
Plastic bag bans have enjoyed tremendous success across California. Arcata is the 83rd California local government to ban single-use plastic bags, including San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Oakland, and others. Together, these local governments represent nearly 1 in 3 Californians.
Environment California is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.