We all use them, the plastic bags given to us at every grocery or department store, but more and more cities across the United States are beginning to either ban the bags completely or regulate the type of plastic bags that can be used.

The Banning of the Bags

Plastic bags are terrible for the environment; they can harm wildlife, get stuck in drainage pipes, and they do not break down in landfills. So, why do we use them? Well, they offer convenience and provide a place for us to hold our purchases until we get home to unload them. Plastic bags seem like the go-to at the grocery stores, especially when we buy too many things to put in reusable bags.  But, more cities around the country are beginning to ban or regulate the use of plastic bags.

Plastic bags can be reused as trash bags or even used to cushion breakables when someone is moving, but after a few uses, they tear and end up thrown away to live in a landfill for decades. This type of plastic bag is also difficult to recycle, which could be part of the reason that nearly 90 percent of them aren’t recycled.

Back in 2007, San Francisco was one of the first cities in California to ban plastic bags. Since then, a large number of cities across the country followed suit. For cities that haven’t banned the use of plastic bags altogether, there are restrictions or regulations. For example, plastic bags in Austin, Texas must be thicker than four millimeters, and paper bags must be made with 40 percent recycled materials. In Dallas, Texas, plastic bags are still used but cost 5 cents –– this regulation began in March of this year.

Chicago, Ill. is the most recent city to ban plastic bags, which will take effect in August 2015. Violating the new ordinance will result in a $300 to $500 fine. With so many cities passing this ban, using paper and reusable bags may soon become the norm.

To see the full list of cities and states that have banned plastic bags, please visit this website.

Posted by Lindsay Page on May 07, 2014

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