San Rafael—The City Council voted unanimously tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags citywide. San Rafael is the 100th California community to ban plastic bags. Nearly 1 in 3 Californians, 12.3 million in all, now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.
“This important step forward for San Rafael shows yet again that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “The experience of 100 communities and 1 in 3 Californians shows that banning plastic bags is the right choice to protect our rivers, beaches, and the Pacific Ocean. I applaud our local governments for their leadership on this issue.”
Single-use plastic bags are one of the most common garbage items on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy. Plastic bags are a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles studied have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, according to an analysis of over 370 autopsies. A 2012 study found that plastic bags make up as much as 8 percent, by volume, of all garbage flowing into the San Francisco Bay through storm drains.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Oakland, and Long Beach, among others, have also banned plastic bags. A statewide plastic bag ban bill, introduced by Senators Padilla, de León, and Lara, is pending before the California State Legislature.
Environment California is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.