Green-minded Californians are weeping into their reusable bags this week. Sadly, AB 1998, a bill that would have banned single-use plastic bags, went down with a 21-14 vote in the California state Senate Tuesday night.

The news comes as a big blow to environmentalists who had rejoiced when AB 1998 passed in the state Assembly — prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to come out in support of the anti-pollution bill. Had AB 1998 passed, California could have become a leader in stopping this unnecessary environmental blight. Now, environmentalists have to restart other efforts to get plastic bags out of Californians' lives.

So what can Californians — and BYO bag supporters everywhere — do to ban the blight that is the plastic bag? Here are some suggestions:

>> Support local plastic bag bans and fees. A few U.S. cities have plastic bag bans and fees in place, but most do not — and many Californian municipalities had put their anti-plastic efforts on hold to see what would happen with AB 1998. Now that the bill has been defeated, efforts to pass local anti-plastic bag measures are springing back up.

The city of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, for example, has already sent out an e-mail letting its residents know that the Santa Monica City Council will take up an ordinance to ban plastic bags (PDF) at its Oct. 12 meeting. This ordinance was actually last debated in January 2009 — but was put off due to the threat of lawsuit from the plastic industry — then delayed further while the fate of AB 1998 hung in the balance. Now, SaMoans need to regroup again locally to get this anti-disposable bag ordinance passed.

LAist reports on similar efforts to drastically reduce plastic bag use by the county and city of Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach. Join the anti-plastic efforts where you live!

>> Vote out the plastic baggers. In his post about AB 1998′s defeat, Mark Gold, president of environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay, names and shames the California state senators who voted against the bill, and urges environmentalists to vote those senators out:

These are the 21 senators that condemned sea turtles, fish and marine mammals to continued hazardous conditions: Aanestad, Ashburn, Calderon, Codgill, Correa, Denham, Ducheny, Dutton, Emerson, Florez, Harman, Hollingsworth, Huff, Negrete McLeod, Price, Romero, Runner, Walters, Wolk, Wright and Wyland.

Please remember these names. They are not friends of the marine environment and should be held accountable for their actions. Please write them or call them and tell them you’re upset by their anti-environmental vote. Feel free to mail them your plastic bags as well.

>> Stay involved with anti plastic campaigns. In a press release, Surfrider Foundation pledged to “continue to educate and inform the public about the hazards of single-use plastics pose to the environment and the economy” with its Rise Against Plastics campaign. Heal the Bay too will continue the fight against disposable plastic. Join or redouble your participation in those efforts.

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