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By Miriam Raftery

September 30, 2014 (Sacramento)--California has become the first state in the nation to ban disposable plastic bags in major retail outlets, though 125 local jurisdictions in the state have already adopted similar ordinances.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a measure into law that will ban the bags starting July 1st of next year in grocery stores and pharmacies.  A year later, the ban will also apply to convenience stores and liquor outlets.

Retailers will offer customers paper bags or a recyclable type of plastic bag at costs of 10 cents apiece or more. 

The plastic bags have been blamed for the deaths of marine mammals, birds, and sea turtles.

The measure was supported by envrionmentalists who ultimately won support of grocers and unions with amendments to add training for workers transitioning out of the disposable bag making business.  Disposable plastic bag manufacturers opposed the measure.

Governor Brown issued a signing statement indicating that the new law “reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself.” He adds, "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."

But the ban might not last very long.  A group opposed to the measure has already filed papers to try and qualify an initiative to overturn the bag ban for the November 2016 ballot. If enough signatures are gathered over the next 90 days, the new law would be suspended until after the voters weigh in.

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Paper Shopping Bags

I always ask for paper although many small markets and liquor stores don't use paper bags which can be purchased at Smart and Final stores. Reuse the paper bags when you go to the store, bring them with you. I also use them to hold newspaper and magazines for recycling.