• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Santa Monica bans single-use plastic bags

January 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Many environmentally conscious Santa Monica residents are embracing the newly passed ban on single-use plastic bags.

Living so close to the water, they know firsthand where the bags usually end up.

"There's a plastic mess in the ocean that's three times the size of Texas. The pollutants in fish at this point is not mercury, it's plastic. We are killing ourselves," said Santa Monica resident Rebel Clair.

If customers forget to bring their reusable bags from home, many stores will offer the option of purchasing paper bags at about 10 cents apiece.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass the ban, which has been a longtime effort for local environmentalists who have been advocating for the rule.

Santa Monica stores hand out an average of 26 million plastic bags a year. It wouldn't be a problem if more people recycled them, but according to the Los Angeles Times, less than 5 percent of L.A. County shoppers actually recycle their bags.

Unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County passed the same ban last November. The California Grocers Association said they favored a statewide ban to make the rule easier to implement.

The only exemptions are for restaurants and food trucks packaging hot items that would seep through paper bags.

Vendors at the farmers market are also exempt. They can still use smaller plastic bags to package produce.

While most support the new ban, many admit that it will take some getting used to.

"I have probably like 10 reusable bags in the back of the truck," said Santa Monica resident Kyla Biba. "I forget to bring them."

The ban is slated to take effect in September.