First, cities ban peeing in public, then smoking in bars, and San Francisco has made the move to outlaw plastic bags. The city council voted to bar large supermarkets and drugstores from using petroleum-based plastic bags in order to support recycling.

According to a Reuters article:

"The city's Department of the Environment said San Francisco uses 181 million plastic grocery bags annually. Plans dating back a decade to encourage recycling of the bags have largely failed, with shoppers returning just one percent of bags," said department spokesman Mark Westland.

San Francisco is the first city in the United States to prohibit the use of plastic bags. Some cities around the world have already banned plastic bags, while others started taxing shoppers when they choose plastic. Companies like IKEA have also started implementing plastic-bag policies.

There are alternatives to petroleum-based plastic bags, like biodegradable totes. A Scotland based company manufactures Biobags, which are compostable. And then there is always the best option—cloth bags. That way, when consumers like us are in the store, we can simply request, “No diddie, thank you.”

This article originally appeared in Plenty in March 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007

Less bag for your buck
Plastic shopping bags are banned in San Francisco.