Santa Barbara—The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously today to ban single-use plastic shopping bags citywide. Once confirmed, the ban will take effect in large grocery stores and pharmacies in three months and in smaller stores after one year. Per standard procedure, the council is expected to finalize the ordinance at a second reading later this month.
“This important step forward for Santa Barbara shows yet again that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” 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 City Council members 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. Plastic bags make up as much as 19 percent, by volume, of all garbage flowing out to sea on the Los Angeles River according to a 2008 L.A. County report.
“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.
Over 80 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags, including Los Angeles, Carpinteria, Ojai, Monterey, and every jurisdiction in San Luis Obispo County. Together, these local governments represent nearly 1 in 3 Californians.
Santa Barbara County and the city of Ventura both voted to develop a plastic bag ban this summer, while Ventura County, Goleta, Oxnard, and other local governments are eligible to adopt the same model ordinance taken up by Santa Barbara.
Environment California is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.