Anti-disposable bag advocates: Get ready to celebrate Independence Day 24 hours early. July 3 is the 2011 International Plastic Bag-Free Day — a day you can declare independence from plastic bags!

Organized by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, International Plastic Bag-Free Day encourages people and organizations to host events and sign petitions to promote plastic bag-free living. It's a day to be extra proud that you've made a habit of toting your own reusable bag to stores.

In Los Angeles where I live, this no-plastic celebration will come just days after another more local no-plastic celebration. Come July 1, plastic bags will officially be banned in Los Angeles County! Plus, paper bags will no longer be free. Opt to kill a tree, and you'll need to pay a dime for the privilege — though your eco-guilt may be assuaged by the fact that those paper bags will still be made from 40 percent post-consumer recycled content and be 100-percent recyclable.

Before you rejoice that you'll see no plastic bags littering the streets during your next visit to Hollywood or Disneyland, I have to first remind you that Disneyland is in Orange County, not Los Angeles County — and that even within L.A. County, this plastic bag ban may be a little less dramatic than you were hoping. Why? The Los Angeles County bag ban applies only to unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. That means businesses in most of the incorporated cities — including the city of Los Angeles itself — will still be able to give out both plastic and paper bags for free! In addition, smaller stores will have until January 2012 to comply with the ban.

The good news is that many cities in L.A. County are passing their own bag bans. Malibu banned plastic bags back in 2008. And since the L.A. County bag ban was approved by the board of supervisors, many cities have modeled their own bag bans after the county's ban. Among the cities that will be banning plastic bags this year are Santa Monica and Long Beach.

How are plastic bag ban efforts coming along in your neighborhood?

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