There are many small things we can do individually in “going green” – changing out our light bulbs, minimizing use of the clothes dryer, and setting thermostats at eighty – these are a few ways to start. (These steps alone cut our own power bill in half for July from two years ago.) Now here is a next step.
The cities of Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs are taking a look at banning the use of plastic shopping bags. San Francisco has already banned plastic bags since 2007, and Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, will begin banning them in two years. I’ve found that it isn’t so hard simply to fold my paper grocery bags, put them back in the car and take them with me for the next grocery trip. Our local Trader Joe’s encourages us to reuse bags by having a weekly drawing for groceries for those who bring their own bags. Also, Trader Joe’s and other merchants have begun selling reusable canvas bags and insulated bags.
Why should this be so important? Californina estimates that 19 billion plastic bags are distributed in our state each year, with fewer that 5% being recycled. These bags take more than 1000 years to break down. This is a very discouraging statistic. Anytime you see plastic bags blowing in the wind, stuck in a tree, or otherwise littering, you know that they will not be going away by themselves but rather must be cleaned up by us. How much better it will be to eliminate their use and protect our environment!
While Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs are conducting preliminary studies on this issue, they are both hoping for a statewide initiative, which might come perhaps as soon as next year. Meanwhile, the city of Palm Springs has purchased 3000 large green reusable bags for free distribution at such events as our weekly VillageFest in downtown Palm Springs each Thursday. Many thanks to Palm Springs Disposal Services for this gesture. I can’t wait to get mine!