It has taken some getting used to, but Gonzalez and her family seem to be adjusting well to California’s ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, which voters approved Nov. 8.
“You have to accept what the law is. It’s a little tough, but you learn as you go along that this is what we need to do,” Gonzalez said outside a Food 4 Less in Perris.
“I think it’s a good thing for the environment.”
The law, which environmentalists say is crucial to reducing litter and ocean pollution, officially took effect Dec. 16 after the California secretary of state certified the vote, but many stores began charging for the bags right after the measure passed.
It prohibits supermarkets, stores that sell some groceries and large retail stores with pharmacies from providing free single-use carryout bags.
And those merchants must charge customers at least 10 cents for a plastic or paper bag. Many stores charge 15 cents.
However, it does not affect plastic produce bags, bags to hold unwrapped food items, bags at hardware stores, dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags or bags in restaurants and non-grocery retail stores such as Sears.
Proposition 67 ratified a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2014, SB270, that banned plastic grocery bags statewide and required grocery stores to charge at least a dime for reusable grocery bags.
Prop. 67 also provided $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers to help them retain jobs and switch to making thicker, multiple-use bags out of recycled plastic.
The measure passed with 53 percent of the vote.
The law, though, has confused some shoppers.
Luis Jimenez, for example, was unsure why the retail clothing and home decor store, dd’s Discounts, still placed purchases in plastic bags.
“A plastic bag is a plastic bag,” Jimenez said after finishing his grocery shopping at the Food 4 Less in Perris.
The law details that the ban affects only certain grocery stores, large retail stores with a pharmacy, and food marts or liquor stores.
However, retail establishments that are not included in the law can voluntarily comply with it.
Jimenez isn’t opposed to the law. He said it was a “shocker” at first, but he sees the law as just something to adapt to.
He said he normally doesn’t throw away plastic bags anyway. He stashes them in his car for his next grocery trip.
Also, Jimenez receives public assistance benefits, so he didn’t have to pay Thursday for his paper bags, which cost 15 cents at Food 4 Less.
The measure exempts consumers using a payment card or voucher issued by the California Special Supplemental Food Program from being charged for bags.
“You just got to go with the flow sometimes,” Jimenez said.
Others are having a harder time adjusting to the new law.
Patricia Gutierrez, for example, moved from Wyoming recently to Southern California and never considered having to pay for a plastic bag.
She said she forgets to bring a recyclable bag and has had to wrap her groceries using her jacket to avoid paying bag fees.
“They should do away with this law,” said Gutierrez.
“They should worry about other things like bringing down food prices instead of charging for a grocery bag,” she said.
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