A citywide ban on single-use plastic bags that was unanimously approved by the Santa Monica City Council on Jan. 25 is on the verge of finally taking effect in the city. In anticipation of the plastic bag ban enforcement, the city has initiated a “Share A Bag” exchange program to promote reusable shopping bags. Santa Monica’s ban on single-use carryout plastic bags, which was under development for three years, was officially in effect 30 days after the council’s action; however, enforcement of the ban will commence on Sept. 1.
As part of the ban, retailers across Santa Monica are not permitted to provide to their customers a single-use plastic carryout bag; a 10-cent fee was incorporated on recycled paper bags to promote the use of reusable bags.
The plastic bag ban “creates incentives for shoppers to carry their own bags” and the Share A Bag program aims to “to meet the anticipated demand for reusable shopping bags.”
In order to meet that need, city officials and members of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment set up camp at the center of the Wednesday Farmer’s Market at Arizona Avenue and Second Street to promote the Share A Bag exchange program.
Under the exchange plan, anyone who has extra reusable bags may leave them at any of the Share A Bag Program locations. Anyone seeking a reusable bag may obtain one at any of the locations participating in the program.
“If you have extra bags … bring them down to one of our 17 locations that have containers, and put them in there,” Josephine Miller, an environmental analyst with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, told the Mirror, noting how easy it is to participate in the Share A Bag exchange program.
The bags, which are distributed for free by the city, were made of durable military materials by local veterans.
“We want everyone to get into the habit to bring their reusable bags,” Miller said. “We have enough bags for people to go around. The bottom line is we want to stop using single use bags.”
Miller added that single use bags have short life spans but are very difficult to clean up after they are disposed.
“The average time that a bag is used is 12 minutes, but the clean up cost is detrimental, and our taxpayers are paying for it,” she said. “By simply remembering your reusable bag, you are eliminating all those costs.”
“The success of this initiative is entirely contingent upon people giving bags. If no one is contributing to the system, then we’re not creating an exchange,” said Andrew Basmajian from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
Laura Avery, a city employee who works with the Farmer’s Market, told the Mirror that about 10,000 bags are being made available through the Share A Bag program.
Each bag provided under the Share A Bag program has a lifespan of about 20 years, is washable, and could be used for just about every trip to the grocery story or Farmer’s Market.
Places where reusable bags can be found or exchanged include Santa Monica’s four Farmers Markets, Buy Local Santa Monica Resale Merchants (secondhand stores, vintage stores, resale boutiques, thrift shops, charity shops and consignment shops), Downtown Santa Monica Ambassador’s Desk, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and the City Hall Help Desk.
The specific locations include:
1. Wednesday’s Downtown Farmers Market: Arizona Avenue and Third Street Promenade
2. Saturday’s Virginia Avenue Park Farmers Market: Pico Boulevard at Cloverfield Boulevard.
3. Saturday’s Downtown Farmers Market: Arizona Avenue and Third Street Promenade
4. Sunday’s Main Street Farmers Market: Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard in Heritage Park
1. Arcana Books of the Arts (1229 Third Street Promenade)
2. Assistance League of Santa Monica Thrift Shop (1453 15th Street)
3. Baby Daze Boutique (1706 Ocean Park Boulevard)
4. Cherry Picked, a Just Cause Foundation (2807 Pico Boulevard)
5. Crossroads Trading Co (1449 Fourth Street)
6. Courtney’s Vintage and Antiques Furnishings (1437 Lincoln Boulevard)
7. Great Labels (1126 Wilshire Boulevard)
8. Once ‘N Again (3012 Santa Monica Boulevard)
9. St Joseph’s Thrift Store (1828 Lincoln Boulevard)
10. St Matthew’s Episcopal Church Thrift Shop (2812 Main Street)
Other “Share A Bag” Exchange Locations:
1. Downtown Santa Monica Ambassador’s Desk (Parking Structure 4)
2. Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce (1234 Sixth Street #100)
3. City Hall Help Desk (1685 Main Street)
More information about the Single-use Carryout Bag Ban can be found at sustainablesm.org/bag.