Are L.A.'s Shopping Carts and Plastic Bags Under Attack?

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Do abandoned carts lead to city-wide squalor? Photo: Jenni from the block via Flickr

This past Sunday, an op-ed was filed with The L.A. Times that decries the increasing number of safeguards that grocery and department stores are placing on shopping carts to prevent them from being stolen or abandoned on the street. The main thrust of this anonymous pundit claims that, "Abandoned carts are an issue, not a crisis, and making them less useful to shoppers makes life a little harder for all Angelenos." On the other side sits the broken windows theory that the more abandoned carts there are littering our streets, the more easily social blight creeps in on their wheels. As the writer steams away at being denied this "lifesaver" to help carry her groceries to the parking lot, tomorrow the L.A. City Council is set to tackle another controversial issue in the world of lives of grocery shoppers: the prospect of an all-out, county-wide ban on plastic bags.

The measure has its backers, like Heal the Bay and the NRDC, two of the groups helping to put this proposal in front of the Council. So far, bans on plastic bags have been met with mixed results in our state. A plastic bag ban went into effect in Santa Monica last fall and another in San Francisco in early 2012, while a state-wide ban was rejected in Sacramento in 2010.

In another anonymous op-ed today in the Times, an advocate of reusable shopping bags stresses the need for the City Council to approve the ban, insisting, "For a city with such a strong environmental ethic, Los Angeles is lagging on the plastic bag issue. It has been batting around the idea of a ban for three years as cities up and down the state acted to keep millions of the bags from being freely distributed, only to end up fouling waterways, beaches and the ocean."

But just as the op-ed already has comments complaining his thoughts are another example of the "LAraza Times" putting forth its radical Satanist agenda, radio station KPCC reports on a more reasonable opponent of the ban, the American Progressive Bag Alliance. Yes, that really exists.

This self-funded lobby consists of out-of-state companies that actually make plastic bags and, teamed together with workers from the plants, are focused on teaching the population to simply recycle the bags, rather than let them blow through the streets and another U.S. industry meets its grave. One local plastics manufacturer, Crown Poly, is also trodding out its actual workers, claiming a bag ban will eliminate their jobs. Either way, as a decision draws nearer, a line has formed in the sand.

Where do you stand on a city-wide ban on plastic shopping bags? And has anyone asked the plastic bag itself? We'd love to know readers' thoughts in our comments.

L.A., ban the plastic bags [LAT]
An LA bag ban is the big whale for environmental groups, plastics industry [KPCC]