Ban Single-Use Carryout Bag


Admit it.  You have seen plastic bags tumbling in the wind down a street alley.  Or floating on the banks of the Potomac.  I personally have seen for over two weeks not one but two plastic bags caught in the branches of a tree outside my apartment building.  It's too high for me to climb up and grab (and I'm not sure why my apartment building hasn't taken care of them.)  It's a problem this city should address because we sit along a waterway and many streams.  Plastic bags are not easily biodegradable which can cause more energy to compost them and are already known to environmentally impact our waterways and marine and bird wildlife. I propose a ban on single-use carrout bags that are distributed by all retail establishments like grocery stores, pharmacies, Target/Wal-mart type stores, convenience stores, mini-marts, etc. (stores that use plastic bags in an abundance).  In place of the plastic bag, these stores can provide paper bags that are at least 40% post-consumer recycled materials to customers for 10 cents each.  Revenues from the paper bags can stay within the store providing the paper bags.  A better option is the customer using their own cloth bag.  Many stores, even grocery stores, already sell cloth bags for a dollar.   The cost of implementation is placed on retail establishments to switch from plastic to paper bag; however, these costs potentionally can be recoup with the 10 cents paper bag fee.  Implementation can begin within 6 months which would give enough time for the city and the retail stores to provide notice to the public/consumer.  If a retail establishment fails to comply, the city can place fines for each occurence (and then use the fine revenues towards cleaning up the disgusting cigarette butts on the streets and park grounds.)One could say, the plastic bags will just come from neighboring Arlington and Fairfax county.  Well, I lived in Santa Monica for several years where this ban was in place.  Before I moved to Virginia, Los Angeles and Culver City, neighboring cities, began to see the logic and cost-effective plan and began their own plastic bag ban.  There will no doubt be naysayers who will complain that they won't be able to pick up their own dog's poop because they do not have a Target plastic bag.  I am a dog owner, and I pick up my dog's poop with eco-friendly plastic bags sold at pet stores.The issues is that plastic bags used by consumers from grocery stores, Target, etc. are just not biodegradable.  Plastic bags are made predominatly from petroleum which is just not acceptable to me to have a clean environment.  I know that Alexandria's communities will benefit by not having this debris in our yards, streets, and parks.  These bags won't be clogging storm-drains or in streams or rivers that potentially will hurt our wildlife.  Banning single-use plastic bags is environmentally friendly hands down.  It is so successful in other cities across the United States and world.  Let's bring that success to here in Alexandria and be the first city in Northern Virginia to Go Green! 


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