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  • This week the Santa Barbara County Supervisors moved closer to banning single-use plastic bags in the unincorporated areas of the county.  In a divided vote, 3-2, the board’s majority agreed to move forward on a proposal that has been in works for more than two years. Supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Peter Adam voted against the ban.

    The ban on plastic bags will only affect businesses in unincorporated areas such as Orcutt, Vandenberg Village, Santa Ynez, Isla Vista and Montecito.

    Once it takes effect next spring, the law would ban single-use plastic bags for grocery stores and require a 10-cent fee for paper bags to encourage shoppers to switch to reusable choose_to_reuse_noshadowbags.

    The county’s ban is not as stringent as the ordinance in place in San Luis Obispo County where plastic bags cannot be distributed in supermarkets, clothing stores or retail businesses.

    Santa Barbara County’s ordinance would only impact full-time retail stores such as grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and other retail stores selling a limited line of items including bread, milk, snack foods and soda. The ban would not restrict produce bags or bags used by department stores, hardware stores, clothing stores or other retailers that don’t sell food. It also would not affect restaurants or wine and beer tasting rooms.

    Officials estimate the law would affect 74 stores in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County.

    Already in effect in the city of Santa Barbara, in nearby Carpinteria, and all of San Luis Obispo County, plastic bag bans have been successful in the region. This one for the entire county of Santa Barbara is scheduled to roll out next March.  The issue will return to the Board of Supervisors on August 25th.

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    Here at Earthwise, we’re always ready to support a great cause. This September, that great cause is the 2015 Los Angeles YMCA Stair Climb. We’ve already donated 4,000 reusable bags to the event and we’re so excited to participate! So what makes this event so fabulous?

    • It ensures access to youth programs that fight childhood obesity and the academic achievement gap.
    • Climbing the 1,005-foot US Bank Tower (the tallest building in LA) is a serious workout.
    • After the climb, you’ll be rewarded with food, games and a block party – not to mention a few cool souvenirs.

    Click here to learn more about the YMCA Stair Climb event, register, and snag one of our bags. Hope to see you there!

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    Zaylie's Stop Plastic ProjectWhen we heard that an 8-year-old Girl Scout named Zaylie Rigsbee is hoping to collect 2,000 reusable bags for her “Stop Plastic” Bronze Project, we knew we had to help. After sending 500 bags her way, we received a sweet thank you on her Facebook page.

    Zaylie plans to hand out her collected bags for free in an effort to reform the shopping habits of her Newton, Kansas hometown’s residents.

    We’re so proud to see kids getting educated and excited about sustainability, and can’t wait to see Zaylie’s “Stop Plastic” initiative get more and more attention. Want to offer your support? Like her page, give her some positive feedback, or even send some bags her way!

     

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    What’s cooler than reusable shopping bags? Using reusable shopping bags for something cool, of course!

    On January 30, 2015, we donated a few hundred Earthwise bags to a company called BG Sports Enterprises for their pre-Super Bowl Celebrity Gifting Suite. The event honored Antoine Bethea, San Francisco 49er and 2015 Pro Bowler / Bill Walsh Award Recipient, as well as raised funds for his Safe Coverage Foundation. The Safe Coverage Foundation is committed to providing students with the tools to succeed and the opportunities to further their education.

    Here at Earthwise we hope to not only better the environment, but also the people who live in it. We believe that by supporting the higher education of today’s youth, we can inspire them to recognize the value of our planet and respect the limits of the precious resources it provides. We’re so grateful to have been a part of this great event!

    The CEO of BG Sports Enterprises, Brittany Gilman, was kind enough to send us some photos featuring our reusable bags. And we must say, the camera loves them (nearly) as much as we do.

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    Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 1.12.24 PM  reusable shopping bag gift suite

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    On Tuesday, Monterey County’s largest city moved toward prohibiting single-use plastic bags, following the county’s lead. The Salinas City Council made it very clear that it approved of a plastic bag ban during their first reading of a new city ordinance that would do just that. Most of the city council members praised the proposed ban as a good step toward helping the environment.

    In the proposed draft ordinance, it would prohibit single-use plastic bags in grocery and retail stores and farmers markets. The ordinance would also require retailers to charge a 10-cent fee for recycled paper and reusable bags, which they in turn would keep. Stores would be given a 6-month grace period to use up inventory of their plastic bags and adjust to the change. Wholesale produce packing and shipping companies as well as restaurants would be exempt.

    Several area cities, including Monterey and Carmel, already have enacted plastic bag bans or are considering them. That also includes Gonzales, Marina, Pacific Grove, Soledad, Seaside, Greenfield and King City.

     

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    Senate Bill 270, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee just last Thursday.This was a big win for the state bag bill, but of course it now heads to the full Assembly for debate and discussion.. The deadline to pass both houses is August 31st.

    To date, 116 cities and counties with a third of our state’s population have recognized the environmental and economic costs of plastic bag pollution, and adopted a local single-use plastic bag ordinance. Our state still needs a solution!

    If you haven’t already, take action here and share it with your friends. It just takes a few seconds to let your legislator know you support a statewide bag ban. 

    If SB 270 moves forward, California will become the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive ban on single-use plastic bags!

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    Responding to resident outcry, the town of Falmouth, Maine is joining the ranks of towns considering limits on the use of single use plastic shopping bags.

    On Monday, the Falmouth Town Council referred the issue to the Recycling and Energy Advisory Committee (REAC) along with a request that they submit their recommendations to the Council by January 1, 2015.

    Councilor Russell Anderson said, “I think the idea should be to change behavior so people stop using plastic bags and start using reusable ones. There are lots of ways to do that, and I think REAC is in a position to flesh that out for us.”

    Back in June of this year, the Portland, ME City Council approved a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper shopping bags that will become effective in April of 2015.  The Freeport, ME Town Council sent a proposed ban on single use plastic shopping bags to its ordinance committee two weeks ago.

    Chairwoman of the Council, Karen Farber, requested Monday’s discussion. The council received an email from a resident suggesting that the Council consider action in the wake of Portland’s new ordinance. Councilor Sean Mahoney said a half dozen constituents had expressed similar sentiments to him.

    According to a post on the town’s website, the consensus is that an ordinance on single use plastic shopping bags could “encourage the use of reusable shopping bags, reduce plastic bag trash found along our roadways and in our waterways, and reduce (the) ecological impact of manufacturing disposable shopping bags.”

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    The city of Pleasant Hill unanimously approved the introduction of a plastic bag ordinance at the town council meeting on July 7th, 2014.

    The ordinance will prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags at checkout at supermarkets, restaurants and all retailers, including department stores, liquor stores, convenience stores as well as drugstores. Customers could bring their own bags or purchase a recycled paper bag for 10 cents. Individuals who receive government assistance and food aid will not have to pay for a paper bag. In addition, garment bags and paper or plastic bags for fresh produce, meat and prescription medications will be exempt.

    The 10 cent charge is subject to increasing to 25 cents at the discretion of the town council.

    The ordinance is scheduled for final adoption on August 4th. If adopted, Pleasant Hill will be the 7th city in Contra Costa County with a plastic bag ordinance.

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    Tonight the Town Council of Silver City will consider whether to ban plastic bags in a council-wide vote. Proposed by the Town Councilor Cynthia Ann Bettison, the ban has led to concerns raised by the Silver City Grant Chamber of Commerce stating that the ban would increase costs for retailers.

    However, for local environmentalists, the ban is a good thing and has worked very well across the nation. In fact, Santa Fe adopted a plastic bag ban in 2013 and it went into effect in February of this year.  The Santa Fe ordinance has three provisions: plastic bags that are 2.25 mil or thicker are defined as reusable and therefore are allowed to be given out without a fee, plastic produce bags are exempt and may be given, and restaurants and non-profit businesses that serve the needy are exempt from the ordinance.

    If the town council passes a ban on plastic bags, Silver City will be the second municipality in New Mexico to do so!

     

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    The Fort Collins City Council has given its initial approval to a 10-cent fee on all disposable shopping bags. As reported in the Coloradoan, the city council approved this bag fee proposal on Tuesday, July 1st.

    The official ordinance would let grocery stores keep all the revenue generated by the fees under the ordinance. The supermarkets would be required to spend at least 50 percent of the proceeds to purchase reusable bags to distribute to customers.

    The proposal passed 5-2. Similar mandates in other Colorado cities have proved to bring in dramatic decreases in plastic bag use. Boulder, Colorado has seen a 68 percent drop in disposable bag use since they implemented their 10-cent fee in July 2013.  In addition, Breckenridge has seen a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the use of disposable bags since 2012.

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