City Passes Plastic Bag Ban

At its meeting yesterday, the San Jose City Council passed the most stringent ban on plastic bags in the Bay Area. Stores will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic bags in 2012, with the exception of restaurants and second hand shops. With this ban, San Jose will be following the lead of ten other cities in California, including Palo Alto, Oakland and San Francisco.

What distinguishes this ban, however, is that the paper alternative is also severely restricted. Only bags made of a minimum of 40 percent recyclable paper will be permitted, and even then, bags will come with a cost. Shopkeepers will be required to charge 10 cents per bag, with the price climbing to 25 cents after the first year.

The new ordinance passed with a vote of 10-1. The lone dissenter was City Councilmember Pete Constant, who argued that the ban “increased the burden and cost for people in the midst of one of the deepest recessions we’ve experienced in our lifetime.”

The bill was a triumph for Save the Bay, the largest regional nonprofit group working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. David Lewis, the group’s Executive Director, says that 3.8 billion plastic bags are used in the Bay Area every year, and over a million of these end up in the Bay. While this is a very small percentage—0.025 percent—they cause considerable harm to local birds and fish. Lewis goes so far as to call plastic bags, “the most visible and unsightly forms of pollution in the Bay.”
Read More at ABC 7.
Read More at The Mercury News.


  1. Great one more thing that we as citizens can’t make a personal choice about and have to have the government protect us from. What is next? Can we not have paper cups or plates? How about no plastic containers of any kind, you have to bring a glass container to the store to get some sour cream put in it? This is so typical of Liberals. Just because something helps something does not mean you should create a law to enforce it.

    • It’s not a question of government control, it is a question of externalizing the cost of the plastic bags, and who should pay for it. 

      San Jose can either disallow plastic bags, or they could impose the real costs of plastic bags on users.  Would you really be willing to pay a sum equal to the full damages caused by plastic bags every time you use one?  If not, why should society at large have to pay for it?  This is simply a step to making people responsible for the consequences of their actions.  This is called personal responsiblity.

      • So because someone lets a plastic bag get loose in the environment it is the bag manufacturers fault and the store owners fault and they need to assume all the clean up costs and liability? This is the problem with society, blame someone else. Don’t take responsibility for yourself, rather let the government impose it on you. There is a lot of other trash out there and these bags are just one little over reported piece. Do we have to ban all plastic or for that matter all garbage because it may end up in the environment? So now we are back to cutting trees down to make more paper bags. Yep that sounds better. You are all nuts.

  2. Another blow to business in San Jose! What does one do when they don’t bring enough canvas kqed – earth day bags to the market? Make trips back and forth to the Hybrid? With the money I’m saving on fuel I’ll charge my prius in stop and go traffic as i drive to Campbell or Los Gatos and contribute to their General Fund!

    It took these people 2 YEARS to study this? How much did that cost the Taxpayer? What kind of Circus is Chuck Reed running over at City Hall? Why are the “enlightened clowns” on the Council so wasteful of the people’s time and money?

    • “Why are the “enlightened clowns” on the Council so wasteful of the people’s time and money?”

      Because it’s not THEIR money. It is so easy to spend money that belongs to others and it seems like they burn through the taxpayer’s money like water running through your fingers. Then they put the blame of the shortage on employees and try to make the employees pay for their wastefulness. I’d bet if this money was coming out of their own pockets, you would not see so much waste of the people’s money. I’m sure you would see careful, calculated, warranted spending.

  3. This is absolutely hilarious… our Councilwhores doing what they do best – intruding into our lives at every opportunity.

    While I endorse completely the idea of banning plastic bags, I think it’s utter nonsense to charge customers for recyclable paper bags.  Particularly since the ordinance does not permit businesses to charge paper bag fees to customers using food stamps!

    In my case, I ceased doing nearly all of my shopping within the SJ City limits more than a year ago.  I could no longer endure seeing SJ piss away my sales tax dollars while delivering next to no services.  Consequently, I shop in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and other nearby municipalities.

    The ordinance is even more laughable because, were I to return to SJ for my weekly grocery sojourn, I would simply buy the bags I need from food stamp users and undercut the SJ price… how ridiculous!

  4. We can’t make our own decisions to use plastic bags, we can’t choose to buy our kid a Happy Meal, what is next? Can you say GOVERNMENT CONTROL! They obviously think they have to protect us from ourselves because they know best.

    • Well, in the case of the bag ban, it isn’t a matter of protecting us from ourselves.  It’s a matter of protecting the environment, wildlife, from us.  But I imagine that wouldn’t be worth a dime to any of the commenters on this site.

      • Dear Protect:

        Well, I said “Call me a stooge of big oil who doesn’t care about the environment, . . .”

        … and you did.

        Not only do I know what I know, I also know what you know, and I can predict what you’re going to think before you even think it.

        Believe me, it’s an awesome power.

  5. Halleleuiah!!!

    The dictatorship of the squeaky clean trust fund children stomps its designer Birkenstock jackboot on the necks of San Jose grocery shoppers.

    But, they have good reason to:  they’re smarter than everyone else, don’t you see.  They care about the ECOLOGY!  They’ve STUDIED ecology, whereas the rest of us are just fat, lazy, Doritos-eating schlubs who listen to Rush Limbaugh, cling to our bibles and guns, and watch Bristol Palin on “Dancing With the Stars”.

    One question for the really smart trust fund children: what is the cost to society when a tuberculosis and malaria infected illegal immigrant from sub-Saharan Africa—oh say, Barack Obama’s Aunt Zetuni—drags her cat-urine soaked, rat feces encrusted re-cyclable grocery bag into her local mercado, plops it on top of the fresh bananas, and fills it up with lovingly hand-selected yams, pomagranates, figs, and onions?

    I assume that the really smart trust fund children would never shop in a mercado and therefore would be safe from every contracting or spreading a third-world disease.

    But maybe Aunt Zetuni or one of her fellow mercado shoppers might work in a day care center or even clean houses and wash dishes for someone who drives a Prius and donates to the Sierra Club.

    Call me a stooge of big oil who doesn’t care about the environment, but when I go to the super market, I want a clean PRISTINE bag for my groceries, and I don’t want people dragging all of the contagions and diseases of the third world into MY food chain.

    • Wow. Is it really necessary to attempt to make your point by injecting hatred and racism into your diatribe?
      Your ignorance of the subject is bad enough but your vitriol says even more about you.
      Relax and focus on the issue and leave your biases outside—it would go a long ways towards establishing the credibility of your post.

      • He didn’t say anything racist.  Immigrants from the Third World are responsible for recent U.S. outbreaks of tuberculosis, bed bugs, and numerous other previously banished maladies.  The U.S. Institute of Health (an agency of the Federal government) is well aware of this documented fact.

        His point is a but lurid, but not totally without foundation.  Some people probably are going to be schlepping some pretty foul cloth bags through the grocery store.  I have the immune system of a razorback hog, but a lot of people who dose their hands with Purell thrice daily, and scrub their home with anti-bacterial detergents, and particularly the children raised in such antiseptic environs, often have pretty weak immune systems.  The immune system is like a muscle; if you never give it anything to do, it atrophies.

        • So we ban the use of an inexpensive handy tool like the plastic bag for 100% of the population when only a smaller percentage are the ones who actually litter our streets/creeks with them.  Is that right?
          Take a look around the valley to see wherein the plastic bag litter is at.  Is it laying around in the streets and creeks of LG or PA?  Naw. Now check out central and East San Jose – this is where the great bulk of plastic bag litter is found.  Why is that?  Could it be that newly arrived foriegn residents come from places where littering is not taught as an anti social skill?
          Again – so why punish everyone with this ban?

    • Now that’s just silly! Your intestines work successfully with a variety of bacteria, and having contact with small amounts of bacteria can give your immune system a regular workout.  Besides, it’s up to you to keep your own bag clean. Washing machines seem to do the trick.

      • > Besides, it’s up to you to keep your own bag clean. Washing machines seem to do the trick.

        Dearest Erica:

        You DO understand how germs work, don’t you.

        Even though you may wash your recyclable grocery bag using bottled water in an EPA approved front loading washing machine using phosphorus-free detegergent, Aunt Zetuni keeps her recyclable bag in the corner between the gargage scraps and the cat litter box.

        When she brings her bag into the pristine, squeaky clean Whole Foods Store and plops it on top of the organically grown bananas, ambassadors from Aunt Zetunis colony of domestically nurtured cock roaches might find it an opportune time to make a run for freedom, scurry over the bananas and hide in the arugula.

        The problem I am alluding to is NOT that you are NOT a hygienic, environmentally sensitive consumer who REALLY, REALLY wants to save the planet; the problem is that Aunt Zetuni is a filthy slob and doesn’t give a crap about sharing her filth with the rest of the San Jose community.

        Since you are so smart and responsible, you are probably not likely to die from germs that you drag into the store.  But you COULD die from germs that Aunt Zetuni brings in.

        I have a solution: discourage Aunt Zetuni from bringing her contagion-laden recyclable bag into Whole Foods, and encourage Whole Foods to give Aunt Zetuni a modest, efficient, sanitary, bio-degradable complimentary plastic bag in which to carry her groceries.  Problem solved.

        Why are you against progress?

        Why are you against high standards for community hygiene?

  6. Unbelievable.  We heard so much talk about how it wasn’t just environmentally beneficial but cost effective since the recycling companies lose big money when the bags clog their machines.  Well then if they’re going to get a windfall in savings by the ban why didn’t the council REQUIRE that they pass those savings along to the consumer?  Why didn’t the council REQUIRE that the retailers who will be able to benefit from the per use charge for the brown bags and the new revenue stream from selling multi-use bags pass those savings along to the consumer?

    Everyone ‘wins’ except the taxpayers in San Jose!


    • Shopper and Typhoid Mary,

      Do what I do – shop in other nearby cities.  You won’t have to pay for paper bags and it will be unlikely that other shoppers will be depositing billions of germs on produce, deli and meat cases and the checkout counters.

      BTW, for your “big box” needs, do that shopping outside the SJ City limits too.  That hits them hard in the pocketbook.

  7. I’m appalled at the tone of the comments here.  If you haven’t participated in cleaning the plastic bags and other trash out of our waterways & parks, then you really haven’t experienced the issue first hand.

    You still have a personal choice on how to bag your purchases:
    – buy and use your own new plastic bags (no more freebies)
    – bring your own “pristinely clean” reusable bag, crate, box, etc.
    – pay the 10-25¢ for a paper bag

    You just don’t get to burden the city from the increasing burden caused by cleaning up tons of plastic bags when only a small percentage of them are recycled.

    Many generations of Americans lived and carried their purchases home from stores without free plastic bags.  This is merely a return to that time.  We will all survive.

    I will continue to use my reusable bags when shop in San Jose and any other city regardless of whether they offer me a free plastic bag or not.

    • Once plastic bags are off the market, I predict a marked rise in dog poop left in city parks, on sidewalks, neighbors’ lawns, etc.  That’s how I reuse all my plastic bags from the supermarket, and I’m sure many other people do as well.

    • “You still have a personal choice on how to bag your purchases:
      – buy and use your own new plastic bags (no more freebies)”

      Then the ban doesn’t make much sense, does it? If this remains an option, then the plastic bags can still end up in the environment. How stupid.

      I will spend less money, plus interest, in San Jose stores to make up for the charge of the bag…just because.

  8. This is truly stupid. Never mind we already have littering laws, the government just has to make our lives more miserable by this misguided ban. And why the charge for paper? They should be encouraging biodegradable alternatives. Why can’t government do what it’s supposed to do and leave us alone?

  9. I think this is a great step for San Jose!  Cities and countries all over the world are banning plastic bags and San Jose has made the right decision in doing the same.  Most taxpayers don’t realize that they are already paying for these plastic bags, both in the embedded cost in groceries, as well as in the millions of dollars the city spends cleaning up this problem every year!

    My guess is that these complainers will forget about this ordinance soon after it is implemented.  It is commonplace in Europe to carry one’s own bag, and soon Californians will be accustomed to the same positive habit.  Bravo Mayor Reed and City Council!

  10. I’ve been following the campaign to ban plastic bags in San Jose for a long time and I’m thrilled to hear it has passed! It’s not difficult to stash reusable bags in your car or your bike & it doesn’t take long to get used to new habits. Let’s be happy about this small positive change and move on to more important issues.

  11. I’m so happy for the ban on plastic bags!!  About time!!!  The reason we need the government to step in and force citizens to stop their wasteful habits, because citizens don’t do it on their own merit.  That has been proven by the amount of trash found in the bay!  This was a big WIN for our beautiful Bay!  I’m proud to be in San Jose!

  12. Thank you for being forward thinking and banning plastic bags from the City of San Jose and prioritizing the health of our communities and waterways.  The horrible impact of these bags is not well known and it is great to see a government entity step forward and do what is right. 

    I have worked a bit with the PPC ( and have been horrified at the impact of single use and disposable plastics. People need to think about the greater good.

    Again, thank you.

  13. I think the next focus toward eliminating street and creek trash should be hardening the enforcement of the existing litter ordinance by ticketing every take-out establishment who’s food wrappers or containers are found on city streets. The ordinance regulating the permitting of take-out food establishments should REQUIRE all its wrappers & containers be identified, at least with its corporate logo, so trash fines can be directed to the proper parties. I believe this is called extended producer responsibility and it is the most full-proof method of reducing the flow through our community of massive mountains of unwanted stuff which we buy day after day.

    • If I dump my Taco Bravo wrappers in the street, the flaw is with me, not with the owners of Taco Bravo.  You propose that we punish the innocent.  Should we imprison people who manufacture & sell knives, if one of their blades is used in a murder?

  14. “The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence,” said Lord Taverne, the chairman of Sense about Science. “This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive. Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn’t achieve anything.”

    Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, the Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals.

    They “don’t figure” in the majority of cases where animals die from marine debris, said David Laist, the author of a seminal 1997 study on the subject. Most deaths were caused when creatures became caught up in waste produce. “Plastic bags don’t figure in entanglement,” he said. “The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands. Most mammals are too big to get caught up in a plastic bag.”

    He added: “The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species.For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either.”

    The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.

    Fifteen years later in 2002, when the Australian government commissioned a report into the effects of plastic bags, its authors misquoted the Newfoundland study, mistakenly attributing the deaths to “plastic bags.”

    The figure was latched on to by conservationists as proof that the bags were killers. For four years the “typo” remained uncorrected. It was only in 2006 that the authors altered the report, replacing “plastic bags” with “plastic debris”. But they admitted: “The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic bag litter is nearly impossible to determine.”

    In a postscript to the correction they admitted that the original Canadian study had referred to fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the threat to the marine environment.

    Regardless, the erroneous claim has become the keystone of a widening campaign to demonise plastic bags.

    David Santillo, a marine biologist at Greenpeace, told the Times that bad science was undermining the government’s case for banning the bags. “It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags,” he said. “The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags. “It doesn’t do the government’s case any favours if you’ve got statements being made that aren’t supported by the scientific literature that’s out there. With larger mammals it’s fishing gear that’s the big problem. On a global basis plastic bags aren’t an issue. It would be great if statements like these weren’t made.”

  15. I bought my first reusable cloth bag almost 20 years ago, and it is still in excellent shape after weekly use.  I believe this is strong testimonial to the practicality of reusable bags for grocery and retail purchases. 

    I’m against offshore oil drilling, and cutting down on the use of plastic bags is one step towards lowering use of petroleum products.  The plastic bags themselves are also harmful to our Bay and creeks, because many of the plastic bags end up there, where they harm wildlife, cling to marshes,
    and negatively impact recreation. Plastic does not biodegrade; instead, it accumulates in alarming quantities in our waterways. 

    I believe this will also be beneficial to businesses, as they will no longer be forced to bear the burden of providing these free bags to consumers.

  16. From the LA Times
    The Times’ editorial board and others who support banning plastic bags are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Before the California Legislature makes any decision on this issue, let’s carefully consider what the economic and scientific facts are.

    As the president of a plastic bag manufacturer in Los Angeles County, I know all about this issue. We make all sorts of plastic bags — reusable, recycled content and compostable. And we do it right here in the Los Angeles area. We’re proud of who we are, what we do and how we do it. And we are not afraid of having a legitimate debate on this issue, because we have the facts on our side.

    Simply put, the phrase “Ban the bag” is a sound bite, not a solution. It’s a proposal that will make legislators feel good rather than do good. In fact, it will do much harm.

    Here are the facts. First, the ban will have an immediate impact. I disagree with those who say that banning plastic bags won’t be effective. I believe it will be effective — at killing jobs. At my factory alone, 200 people will lose good-paying jobs almost immediately. This comes at a time when our state budget is running a $19-billion deficit and when our state economy has an unemployment rate higher than 12%. Obviously, this is not the time to be pursuing regulatory policies that will kill jobs and hurt our economy.

    Second, this ban will not only be bad for the economy, it will be bad for the environment. Studies demonstrate that plastic bags leave a lighter footprint on the earth than paper bags. Yet the proposed law would promote more paper bags and harm our ability to recycle. Ironically, stores and consumers shifted to plastic bags was because of environmental concerns about using paper bags. Now, in a complete reversal, we are on the verge of passing a law that will greatly increase the use of paper bags, thus destroying trees and increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, the leading cause of global warming. Is that smart environmental policy?

  17. Thank goodness this passed! Unfortunately individuals haven’t moved in mass to use reusable bags, so it is up to this ban to protect our waterways and environment. It’s a huge step, and I hope the rest of the US follows suit.

  18. Wow Babs,you’re the bomb! Now I get it—these plastic bags are just plain Evil! So, with that irrefutable eco-logic in place lets band ALL plastic bags: sandwich bags, garbage bags,freezer bags and bio hazard bags too.They are ,after all, just plain Evil,right? Thanks Silly Council and Babs too for saving us from our selves.

  19. I second Megan’s comments—I’m delighted that the City Council took this step, and I’m hopeful that our land and waterways will benefit greatly.  I’ve supported this initiative all the way through and feel proud to be a resident of San Jose.

  20. This is absurd.  Ten years of busted budgets, and they spend 2 years studying a ban on bags.  It didn’t take The County that long to ban toys in Happy Meals, did it?

    So now, a California market owner must add one more layer of BS to doing business in SJ, and the other cities that have bans.  But all the bans aren’t created equal, so they have to hire someone to do nothing but monitor bag ordinances all over the bay area so they don’t get fined.  Then, in SJ, markets must guess how many bags to buy for food stamp customers. I’m surprised they didn’t exempt card carrying union members as well as the food stamp crowd. Layers and layers of bullshit.

    If you must have a ban, make it statewide, so there is a uniform system.

  21. I live near a freeway and by far the greatest source of litter near my house is
    plastic bags blowing from it onto my street. I ride to work along the Guadelupe
    River Trail, and after high water, the vegetation becomes covered with
    hundreds of plastic bags. It just makes no sense to make a disposable
    product from something that never goes away.

    I’m all for freedom. But one person’s freedom is an imposition on someone else. I want my environment to be free of litter from plastic bags. Other people want to be free to use disposable plastics bags. Evidently we can’t both have what we want.  That’s why we have elected representatives who try to do what most people want so they’ll get re-elected.

  22. God all you people that think this ban is good are nuts. So if something is a problem we need to ban it. Cigarettes – ban them. Alcohol – ban it. Toys – ban them. Meat – ban it, it causes heart disease. Eggs – ban them, they cause hight cholesterol. Cars – ban them they kill people. Guns – ban them all, they kill people. This is what must be going through you “do gooders heads”. How about this Liberals and Tree Huggers- Ban them all too! Stop trying to control everything and everyone.

  23. The San Jose City Council, Kansen Chu in particular, are to be commended for this forward thinking action on behalf of the environment. 

    I invite those who complain of the inconvenience of not receiving free plastic bags to join any number of several volunteer groups who help clean up our streets and waterways.  The volume of plastic bag trash that finds its way into our ecosystem is staggering.

    This ban-the-plastic-bag meme is spreading and will soon be the norm in most communities.  Innovations, such as reusable (green) bags will fill the void, and soon the single use plastic bag will be forgotten.

  24. Deeply troubled by this issue, I spent the night recently staking-out my kitchen, watching to see exactly how the plastic bags I brought home from the grocery store were making their way outside to spoil our environment. I was especially watchful of the doggie door, figuring it to be the most likely route of escape, and had intentionally left on the garage light (sorry, Greenies) so that even the slightest movement of Fido’s door would alert me with a piercing beam of bright, environment-friendly, CFL light.

    The night passed without event. Same thing the next night. My inventory of plastic bags remained unchanged, yet I knew—from reading the news and listening to our wise leaders in government, that somehow over the course of those two long days and nights, I was still guilty of playing a big part in the destruction of our wetlands and the killing of innocent birds, not to mention behaving like a Neanderthal.

    I remember wondering, as I lay silent and still all those hours on the floor beneath the dining table, if it might be possible that the litter that has everyone so upset might not have anything to do with those of us who use plastic bags to bring groceries home, but instead be the result of the irresponsible ways of the kids who buy soda and chips at the 7-11, the drunks who buy beer and cigarettes at the liquor store, the homeless who buy and carry everything in plastic bags? Isn’t the likelihood of their bags making it to our streets and creeks much higher than those carried into homes and kitchens from the grocery store? No, I finally realized, that can’t be the case, otherwise why would the council specifically target those of us buying groceries? We are the guilty ones, I realized, and it is only right that we should pay for our arrogance as well as the error of our ways. Bless you, San Jose City Council.

    I took one last, suspicious look at my stash of plastic bags and vowed—their innocent demeanor notwithstanding—to rid myself of them and my shame once and for all. I will buy a canvas grocery tote—perhaps several, as well as a reliable lock to use to secure them in my kitchen, on the chance that they might prove as crafty and uncontrollable as their plastic cousins. No sense in taking a chance; the image of a seabird struggling to take flight while hopelessly ensnared in city council-approved canvas is one sure to keep me up all night, and I’ve had enough of that.

    • Ironically, those on welfare and food stamps are exempt from the plastic bag charge. I have a strong feeling this socio economic group is the least likely to care where their plastic bags end up.

  25. I consider myself pro-environment, but this seems absurd to me.  It also doesn’t seem like the sort of thing the City Council needs to be bothering with, particularly during the worst Bay Area economic climate since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  If my wife didn’t work at a struggling grocery store in Almaden (hence we give them all our business), I’d just start doing my grocery shopping at the Winchester/Budd Safeway in Campbell.  And thus Campbell would be getting the resultant sales tax revenue.  Surely some San Jose residents who live near the Campbell, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Santa Clara, or Cupertino city lines will do exactly that?

  26. I am pleased with the council decision to impose restrictions on plastic and paper bags. Plastics and the finite components used in their production should be reserved for important purposes like pharmaceutical and manufacturing processes and jet propulsion for which alternatives are unavailable or difficult and costly to implement. And yes, paper bags SHOULD be made out of at least 40% recycled materials. I am shocked by the outrage and resentment by community members at this development that displays regard for environmental health and a move toward sustainability.

    The city council decision shows that San Jose is concerned not only with its own environment but it is taking a leadership role in promoting environmental health and sustainability. I am not afraid of germs and I am not afraid of laws that protect people and the environment.

    • > Reusable-bag Using Resident

      > I am pleased with the council decision to impose restrictions on plastic and paper bags.

      Well, goody for you, Mr. Two Shoes.  If you think carrying your tofu and arugula in a recyclable bag makes you a superior human being, by all means, keep your recyclable bag strapped to your body twenty-four hours a day and sleep with it.

      Just leave the rest of us alone.

      And as to your fearlessness regarding germs,—you probably should have stayed awake during hygiene class in high school—for the benefit of the rest of us, start washing your hands after using the toilet, and thoroughly cook any roadkill before eating it.

  27. Sorry, complainers.  There’s more at stake than your old habits. The City Council made a courageous and correct decision.

    The Cost of Recycling:

    It costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32. And many bags collected for recycling never get recycled. A growing trend is to ship them to Third World countries, where they are cheaply incinerated under more lax environmental laws.

    Plastic Bags Depend on Foreign Oil:

    Plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from oil. China banned free plastic bags, saving 37 million barrels of oil each year. It doesn’t make sense to rely on the use of non-renewable resources and toxic chemicals.  It makes sense to reduce our dependence on foreign oil

    Harm to the Environment:

    Billions of bags wind up in our environment each year that eventually breakdown into tiny toxic bits, which end up in the food chain.

    The Best Alternative: 

    Re-usable bags. Canvas ones with shoulder straps are the best.  You can throw them in the washing machine, and they carry more weight than you can in plastic bags. Put them in your car and grab them on your way into the store. If you forget them, make yourself go back to the car to retrieve them. You’ll get more exercise and you’ll quickly learn to take them with you.

    Another Tip:

    For a trip to the mall, where you don’t want to carry bags around, get one of those nylon bags that stuff into a tiny bag. Stick it in your purse or coat pocket.

    • > China banned free plastic bags, saving 37 million barrels of oil each year. It doesn’t make sense to rely on the use of non-renewable resources and toxic chemicals.  It makes sense to reduce our dependence on foreign oil

      This sounds like a totally made up “fact”.

      It sounds like something you would read on the side of a reclyclable Sierra Club canvas bag with a silkscreen picture of a whale and a fundraising appeal.

      Where, oh where, did you learn that China saves 37 million barrels of oil a year because it banned free plastic bags?

      Now’s your chance to shine, Barbara.  Show me where I’m wrong.

    • This issue was SOOOOOOO important that it took the enlightened ones on our city council 2 YEARS (!!!) To study the issue.  No mention of how much the study cost the taxpayers – Su j a small detail in these wonderful economic times.  Somebody remind me why these a$$ clowns were elected.

      • So Important,

        You need to cut the Councilwhores some slack.  They’ve been REAL busy lately, converting industrial land to residential zoning.  Seems that the developer pimps are having great success lately.

  28. I applaud the San Jose City Council on their vote to ban plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags.  As someone who firmly believes in the interconnectedness between the economy, the environment, and our quality of life- this was a vote in the right direction.  Whenever we talk about waiting on voting for the environment until the economy gets better, the economy we are waiting will continue harming the environment, and reduce people’s quality of life.

    Do we really need the right to be wasteful?  Is it really a right we should fight for?

  29. Please consider the following:

    Dependence on plastic bags = dependence on foreign oil.  Have you ever seen a plastic bag marked “Made in the USA”?  We have to start some where… this is a small beginning.

    An average of 25 children per year die from plastic bag suffocation.

    There are very large (size of Texas) 5 plastic gyres in our planet.  They consist of plastics we use in our daily life, including plastic bags.

    Plastic bags enter the human food chain because the wild ocean fish we eat are feeding in waters filled with small bits of plastic.

    Marine “Animals choke or become poisoned when they eat trash, and drown when they become entangled in bags, ropes, and old fishing gear. The majority of entangled animals found during the (2008) Cleanup were bound up by old fishing line. The loss of wildlife affects not only the beauty and health of the planet, but also countless local economies based on the bounty of the sea.”  (

    The next time you drive by a chain-link fence count the number of plastic bags that are caught in it.

    Plastic bags are a huge source of pollution.

    Plastic products are not biodegradable.  They will never just “go away”.

    This is more than an issue about choice, it’s an issue about safety… that of our nation, children, natural resources, and more.

    … Thank you

    • > Please consider the following:

      > Dependence on plastic bags = dependence on foreign oil.

      OK.  Then just drill for the oil here in California to make the plastic bags.

      There.  Problem solved.

      Buy the way, I am told that it takes probably 2,000 barrels of oil to make all the plastic bags used in San Jose.

      Al Gore uses that much oil just to fly out here to get his Humanitarian Award from the Tech Museum and to have a “therapy session” with his Swedish masseusse.

    • Over 90 percent of the plastic in the Pacific Ocean comes from East Asian countries.  We love to flog & flagellate our evil Western selves in this country, but the USA just ain’t the problem, in this case.  We may not be quite as environmentally conscious as Western Europeans, but compared to nations in just about every other corner of the globe, we do pretty damn well.

  30. It’s a shame that so many of the supposedly enlightened citizens of San Jose turn out to be such rabid baggists. They are scapegoating plastic bags and placing blame for all the ills of our society on this group just because of the composition of their skin. Well I think it’s shameful. These plastic bags came here to do the jobs that paper bags and recycled organic materials bags just don’t want to do. We’ve exploited them. We’ve used them. Now just because some of them haven’t been taught that in this country it’s not OK to throw yourself on the ground or to ride around unrestrained in the back of a truck we want to round them all up and get rid of them? Why that’s bagocide! With the passing of this ordinance plastic bags will be forced to live in the shadows. Plastic bag families will be ripped apart.
    Wouldn’t it be better to allow the plastic bags to stay? We should be willing to endure the harm to our environment while we embark on some costly new government run plastic bag retraining programs so that plastic bags will someday be accepted as equal productive members of the bag community.

  31. You just have to marvel at the bad timing of the City Council in adopting their anti-hygiene scheme.

    If there’s manure to be stepped in, they’ll step in it.

    From today’s Mercury News:

    Nearly 17 percent of Americans suffer food poisoning each year, study shows
    By Lyndsey Layton

    Washington Post

    One in six Americans gets sick from food every year, and about 3,000 die from those illnesses, according to new data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “These are preventable diseases,” said Chris Braden, acting director of the division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases at the CDC. “We need to do more to lower the impact of these diseases in the U.S.”

    .  . .

    “There’s been a lot of advancements in food safety over the years,” Braden said. “There’s been a number of interventions that have made a big difference, but one in six Americans each year get ill with foodborne illness. Greater than 125,000 are hospitalized. The cost is in the billions, and 3,000 die.

    . . .

    The new report estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from food each year. Of that, 9.4 million become ill after consuming food contaminated by at least one of 31 known bacteria, parasites and other pathogens.

    But the remaining 38 million victims—the lion’s share—are poisoned by unknown pathogens, according to the report.

  32. The San Jose City Council’s vote to ban the use of hygienic disposable grocery bags and compel consumers to provide their own “recylable” bags is an inexplicable and mindless step backwards for modern public health practices.

    Disposable plastic bags, of which the primary use is the transport of food items, are known to be sanitary.

    Consumer provided reusable grocery bags are known to be UNSANITARY! 

    What on earth was the City Council thinking?!!

    Because the storage and use of reusable bags by consumers is completely uncontrolled, the bags can be exposed to every known pest and vermin found in any human dwelling in the wide-ranging geopgraphical area where San Jose grocery shoppers reside.

    These can include:

    pet dander
    pet urine
    pet feces
    pet vomit
    and dozens of others.

    In addition, a significant percentage of residences house persons suffering from any number of contagious diseases, including flu, respiratory infections, skin diseases, conjunctivitis, tuberculosis, AIDS, and other similar conditions.

    It is a statistical certainty that some number of recyclable grocery bags brought into grocery and food markets in San Jose by consumers, in addition to containing assorted vermin, WILL CONTAIN human mucous, blood, and bodily fluids with dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

    It is irresponsible in the extreme for the City Council to mandate practices that ensures that vermin and disease vectors will be INTENTIONALLY brought into places where food is handled and distributed.

    These practices place at risk shoppers who may purchase and consume food items that have come in contact with contaminated grocery bags. 

    But those likely to be most at risk are grocery and food store staff who will be required to handle the contaminated bags.

    It is astonishing that those orginazations that purport to protect the health and safety of grocery workers have sat on the sidelines and allowed the City Council and the so-called “envionmentalist” special interests to push through these dangerous and harmful practices. 

    Where are the public health authorities?
    Where is OSHA?
    Where is the union?
    Where is the watchdog press?

    The City Council’s ban on disposable plastic grocery bags is a huge setback for the maintenance of a high level of public health in San Jose.  If the members of the City Council don’t realize this, they need to get educated FAST!

    They need to IMMEDIATELY rescind their ill-considered ban on the use of disposable plastic bags. 

    And then, they need to get access to some COMPETENT, KNOWLEDGEABLE, and AUTHORITITIVE expertise on epidemiology and public health issues, and stop paying attention to earnest, but ignorant single-issue zealots and crackpots.

    • There actually was a study a few months back that said basically just that. They found that people would put meat and chicken in their disposable bag and then the next time put veggies in it and would wonder whey they got sick from eating the veggies. Can you say cross contamination!

      • This is so obvious and common sensical.

        What where the lunkheads on the City Council thinking?!!!

        Who or what stampeded them into their bizarre, retrograde decision?

      • That’s actually not true!  The study that came out did mention bacterial counts but didn’t compare them to other places where bacteria is found.  San Jose studied this and found that your kitchen counter, sponge, or cutting board has hundreds and even thousands (in the case of the sponge) more bacteria.  Residents should use common sense—make sure your meat is protected (this ordinance still allows for plastic bags for meat and produce) and separated from other foods, wash all of your fruits and veggies before consuming them, and wash your bag regularly and after any spills.  Let’s stop with the silly scare tactics.

        • > Residents should use common sense—make sure your meat is protected (this ordinance still allows for plastic bags for meat and produce) and separated from other foods, wash all of your fruits and veggies before consuming them, and wash your bag regularly and after any spills.

          Oh, right.

          Like San Jose residents are going to listen to you or the City Council for their safe meat and produce handling practices.

          Why don’t you talk to a few landlords and get some first hand accounts of the less than stellar hygiene practices and total irresponsibilty of some of their rental housing tenants.

          Very often, rental housing is so contaminated by animal droppings, second hand smoke, spoiled food, etc,  after a tenant vacates that ALL carpeting and draperies —not to mention canvas grocery bags— have to be replaced.

          Tenants have tried to make liquor, drugs, or explosives, performed animal breeding or animal sacrifices, butchered poached game, etc. etc. in rented housing.

          One landlord reported that a tenant disassmbled his motorcycle in his living room and dumped all the oil on the carpet.

          I don’t think these people are going to pay much attention to you advice on keeping their canvas grocery bags clean.

          They’re more likely to use their canvas grocery bag to collect the blood and guts from the last goat they butchered.

  33. Now that the City Council has taken a small mess and turned it into a big mess, it has got to do something to head off the public health disaster it has put in motion.

    Just as the early, evil white settlers sought to spread disease and contagion to Indian tribes by giving them small-pox infected blankets, so the City Council is doing the same to San Jose Grocery shoppers by enabling irresponsible residents among us to spread disease and contagion in our food markets by encouraging them to bring their disease infected shopping bags into places where people buy and consume food.

    The obvious thing to do in the interest of public health would be to BAN the use of consumer provided shopping bags and MANDATE the use of sanitary, single-use plastic shopping bags.

    Since the City Council is obviously in bondage to the disease vector special interest, the only alternative is to establish a rigorous system of shopping bag inspection, control, and probably even licensing.

    The city should establish standards for shopping bag hygiene and put inspectors in place in every food market in the city to ensure that the standards are adhered to.

    In order to prevent shopping bag scammers from using non-regulated shopping bags to evade the inspections, the city needs to publish standards for the design, appearance, and construction of authorized grocery bags.  Such bags, for example, would be brightly colored with a distinctive pattern and be emblazoned with the logo of the City Inspector of Recyclable Shopping Bags.

    The city would necessarily also have to publish rules requiring that recylable bags be laundered after every use in order to prevent the buildup of food scraps in the bags, which would be potential food sources for microbial and insect vermin.

    So, it would be part of the inspectors job to ensure that recyclable bags were appropriately laundered and free of food contaminants and vermin.

    Probably, it would also be necessary to establish the traceability of a contaminated or non-compliant grocery bag in order to assess penalties against those who would flout the health interests of the community and use contaminated or infected bags. 

    Each bag should bear a unique, identifying serial number and be registered to a specific, responsible owner, so that if a contaminated bag were discovered in a food market, city inspectors could cite and arrest the offender.

    Access to a safe food supply is a right of all San Joseans, and the City Council should spare no effort and no expense to ensure that those rights are upheld.

    • SJSAC,

      While your’s is an excellent proposal that should be taken up immediately, I would nonetheless like to offer a couple of amendments.

      The proposed grocery bag regulatory regime should be augmented with a “See or Smell Something/Say Something” iPhone app whereby citizen shoppers can report owners of non-compliant grocery bags to San Jose’s shopping bag czar.

      All grocery store checkout stands are required to have TV monitors running a looped infomercial of Kansen Chu informing shoppers to be ever vigilant and report anyone with unsafe shopping bags.

      Thank you for consideration.

  34. i think this is great.  i see a lot of stores selling reusable bags which is a great alternative but without the incentive to use them, we often forget them at home or in the car.  i feel so wasteful throwing away tons of plastic bags each week knowing they will harm our environment and, eventually, us.  it’s not that hard to bring in your own bags.  almost every store these days offer reusable bags for $1 each. it’s a small investment that will save us a lot in the longrun.

    • Oh yes it is always so great when the government does something to control your life. I just love it. I wish they would tell me what I can eat and not let me buy coffee in a paper cup or any food for that matter that is in any plastic container so they can save me from myself/ourselves. You people that think this is a great idea are flat out nuts. How about we ban cars because they hurt the environment or ban building wood houses because they hurt trees or ban meat because it causes high cholesterol or carpet because they use chemicals to make it and I bet those get in the environment, etc, etc.
      Do you people not see how crazy you are? The government just banned Happy Meals because they think parents can’t control their kids food so they have to step in and control you. They banned salt in New York Restaurants and that doesn’t scare you? Why do you all need someone to control your every move? You need to really understand what you are allowing and not just go with the feel good line of I am doing something for the environment.

  35. Places where recyclable grocery bags call home:

    “Anderson said the issue is going to be costly because the fire department’s Hazmat gear will need replacing. “We need all new suits,” Anderson said.”

    ST. CROIX FALLS–St. Croix Falls Fire Chief Dale Anderson said there were not enough words to describe the conditions inside a residence at 209 S. River Street. The matter began Thursday morning, Nov. 4, when the Polk County Health Department along with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and St. Croix Falls Police Department processed a special inspection warrant on the home. According to a press release from the St. Croix Falls Police Department, officials were acting upon information by an Xcel Energy employee who has been at the address for a service call. The employee reported dozens of sick cats and inches of cat feces on the floor.

    The homeowner is 86-year-old Dorothy Weinhardt. Weinhardt and her 47-year-old daughter and 52-year-old son-in-law lived in the residence that contained over 300 cats, some dead, some near dead and some alive.

    As of Monday, Nov. 8, Chief Anderson said the total count was 397, and there were still more garbage bags inside that were not opened and the contents are unknown. Other garbage bags removed from the residence contained dead cats in various stages of decay.

    Bottles of human urine were located inside the house as well as several inches of cat feces. Chief Anderson said the stairwell was like a ramp, and he believed that was mostly from human feces packed down in the steps.

    St. Croix Falls Fire Department member Beth Anderson stated she didn’t know how people could live in there because the ammonia levels were so high. Anderson received several bites as did other fire department members trying to retrieve cats from the residence. “They are vicious and are not adoptable pets,” said Anderson on scene Friday. The fire department administered carbon monoxide in the house to slow the cats down to be taken out and euthanized.

    Anderson has been treated for her bite injuries and is on antibiodics.

    The home was condemned, and Anderson stated the fire department did recover prescription medications from the residence for the owners, but those are the only personal effects the residents can have.

    The owners of the house are not allowed to go back for any reason. It took approximately one hour to remove the three residents from the house. It has been rumored the residents are staying in a local motel. The district attorney’s office is reviewing the report and determining charges that may be filed.

    The Polk County Health Department condemned the home within minutes of getting inside the residence and would not allow anyone inside without Hazmat apparel. The St. Croix Falls Historical Society is urging that the home be saved. The home is apparently one of the oldest houses in town, built in 1876, by Dorothy Weinhardt’s father-in-law Isaac Swenson. Swenson changed his last name to Weinhardt after settling in St. Croix Falls. The house is not currently on the historic register. The fate of the home has yet to be determined.

    The home has too much toxicity to burn down, according to the fire department. Members of the fire department on scene indicated the house would likely be demolished or razed and hauled away.

    There were reported to be dozens of sick and dead cats in every room of the house, plus three inches of cat feces on every square inch of floor surface. The residents placed the dead cats in garbage bags and other containers inside the home. Chief Anderson reported there was a footpath through the house from room to room and that was how the residents got around. He said garbage bags were piled so high in one of the rooms that he was at eye level with the chandelier when standing on top of the bags.

    The owners were in Polk County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon when the judge signed an order to permit euthanization of all cats in the home. The animals will be cremated at Northland Vet Supply in Clear Lake.

    The site has been cleared for the time being. Chief Anderson stated he does not know if the health department will require the removal of the garbage bags remaining inside, but stated the fire department would be the responding authority if that is the case. Anderson said the issue is going to be costly because the fire department’s Hazmat gear will need replacing. “We need all new suits,” Anderson said. When asked, Anderson commented he didn’t know if there would be any reimbursement from the county on the suit replacements.

    At the city council meeting Monday night, St. Croix Falls Police Chief Paul Lindholm stated that the fire department did most of the dirty work. Lindholm extended his appreciation to the fire department, sheriff’s department and health department and added, “It was a test for everyone.”

  36. Another stop on the Recyclable Grocery Bag Home tour:

    “Gingrich expects to save 16 cats and adopt them out to families, Reaves reported.”

    Great!  But can the canvas grocery bag be saved?!!!

    Dozens Of Cats Removed From Feces-Filled Home
    Friday,  December 10, 2010 6:05 PM
    Updated: Friday,  December 10, 2010 7:00 PM

    ASHLAND, Ohio — A veterinarian said on Friday that he hopes to save some of the dozens of cats found living in nearly a half-foot of feces.

    More than 40 cats were removed from an Ashland County home alive, but most of them had to be put down, 10TV’s Shayla Reaves reported.

    The conditions in the home were the worst Dr. Fred Gingrich has ever seen.

    “Terrible, nothing compares to it. It was awful,” Gingrich said.

    Photos captured by the doctor showed the floor covered in feces. In some places, the feces were so think the floor could not be seen.

    “Just a giant pile of feces, probably 2 feet deep,” Gingrich said. “You just had to get it out of your mind that you were walking on feces.”

    Rooms were filled with garbage and in some rooms it was impossible to open the doors.

    A dead kitten was found on the kitchen microwave, Reaves reported.

    “The house is so filthy that it’s likely the health department or whoever goes through there will likely find some other deceased animals there,” Gingrich said.

    Gingrich expects to save 16 cats and adopt them out to families, Reaves reported.

    The cats will require medical attention before they are adopted, and some will dental extractions.

    “Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with an animal hoarder, in their mind they’re saving these animals they become very emotionally attached to each and every one of them,” Gingrich said. “If anyone would have looked in her window, you would have known she needed help.”

  37. Going for the record!!!

    “The rescue smashes the city record of 82 removed from a home in the late 1980s, Collins said.”

    Yes. But what’s the record for number of canvas grocery bags found in a Cat House?

    MILWAUKEE Sept. 22 —
    Cats were literally coming out of the walls of this south side home.

    Last week, Milwaukee police found 130 felines and a dog in house where trash and cat feces was found up to 3 feet deep.

    Inspectors came to the house last week after neighbors complained about smells coming from the three-bedroom house. When they arrived, they found the sinks and bathtubs filled with cat food. The cats had crawled into the walls, ducts and ceilings, said Donn Jacobson, an animal control officer for the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission.

    The cats drank water from the house’s three toilets and a leaky basement pipe, he said.

    The house has been condemned by the city and may have to be razed.

    The house’s owner died in 1997, but the woman’s adult son returned regularly to feed the animals, said Martin Collins, head of the Department of Neighborhood Services.

    “Once the cats breed inside the walls, its economically impossible to clean it up,” Collins said. “You can imagine what’s inside those walls, and what the house is going to smell like forever.”

    Jacobson has been trudging through the house twice a day for a week, luring cats into metal cages baited with canned tuna.

    “I’m hoping it will end soon,” he said. “I’m sick of coming down here.”

    The cats and the dog all appear to be healthy and have been transported to an animal control facility until authorities can figure out what to do with them, said John McDowell, a field commander for the animal control agency.

    The rescue smashes the city record of 82 removed from a home in the late 1980s, Collins said.

  38. Oh, and add “hookworm” to the list of vermin and parasites that can be carried into your food store in Aunt Zetuni’s canvas grocery bag.

    3 beachgoers treated for hookworm after visiting cat-feces contaminated area

    MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—Three people have been treated for hookworms believed to have come from a stretch of Miami Beach where there are feral cats nearby.

    The cases were reported at the Carriage House condos and confirmed in July and September. They came to the attention of the Miami-Dade Department of Health two weeks ago.

    City and county officials have developed a plan to prevent an outbreak and cleaned and disinfected an area by the boardwalk and sand dunes between 40th and 65th streets.

    The parasite can be carried in cat feces, and there is a large stray cat population nearby. City officials believe this is the source of the problem.

      • > Lots and lots of free time today, eh Mary?

        Getting a little to close to home, are we Ray?

        Are you looking out the window, worried that the health department might show up and take away your hoard of canvas grocery bags?

  39. Hoarding of animals is a recognized psychological disorder:

    These are not just bizarre exceptions.  Animal hoarding goes on everywhere, even in San Jose.

    “All the homes studied were discovered to be filthy with papers, books and debris blocking out most of the living spaces. Sometimes, the human and animal waste was so thick the floors had buckled.”

    And canvas grocery bags??  What about the canvas grocery bags??

    Lynn Tryba reports in an article in Psychology Today, December 2002, pg. 22, “Trash Menagerie: The Disturbing World of Animal Hoarders”,.

    “There appear to be more similarities than differences between OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) hoarding and animal hoarding,” says Dr. Gary Patronek, who is also an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Tufts. The interaction between an animal and a person just adds a level of intensity that doesn’t exist with a pile of newspapers. Animal hoarders may threaten to kill themselves or others if their animals are removed. They use the animals to fulfill their emotional needs, but at the same time, they’re denying the animals’ needs, says Patronek.”

    . . .

    In an HARC study (Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium), a joint venture of the Massachusetts SPCA and schools including Harvard Medical School and Tufts University: seventy-one suspected hoarders were surveyed and observed. The most common animal being hoarded turned out to be cats, followed by dogs, and then birds. All the homes studied were discovered to be filthy with papers, books and debris blocking out most of the living spaces. Sometimes, the human and animal waste was so thick the floors had buckled.

    Experts estimate there are at least 700 new cases of hoarding reported every year in the United States. According to Dr. Gary Patronek, the animal hoarder becomes a repeat offender. “The drive to collect these animals is so overpowering there is almost always 100% recidivism.”

  40. Living on the border of San Jose and Santa Clara, I will go into Santa Clara to do my shopping. I am sure many other will do likewise, and San Jose will lose yet more tax revenue. I bring back my plastic bags to the store and recycle them.

    How can the city council of San Jose choose to lose more tax revenue at a time when they are crying the city is virtually bankrupt? This is like having your house in foreclosure and deciding it is a great time to put install double pane windows. It is irresponsible. The San Jose city council is killing our tax base with decisions like this. It seems our only growth industry is medicinal marijuana stores, which surrounding cities are refusing to let do business. In my opinion, this mayor and the city council, along with the city manager, have done an awful job in bringing business to San Jose, and are living in an ivory tower.

  41. I am very happy we finally made this stand!!
    It is ridiculous that we hand out bags at the rate we do at this point in time, Ridiculous and socially irresponsible.
    Paper bags are so much better, not using them will be even better, reusing them as many times as we can is the best way to go.
    What can I say. If you get free anything, you want more of it, no matter how bad it is for anyone else…..
    WAY TO GO!!!!!


    • > Ridiculous and socially irresponsible.

      How about dragging disease and contagion infested cloth articles into food distribution centers and delicatessens?

      Isn’t that ridiculous and socially irresponsible?

      How about giving smallpox infected blankets to Indians?

      Isn’t that ridiculous and socially irresponsible?

      How about peeing all over your hands in a public restroom and not washing your hands?

      Isn’t that ridiculous and socially irresponsible?

      How about peeing all over your hands, using your canvas grocery bag for a towell, and then handing it to the grocery clerk?

      Isn’t that ridiculous and socially irresponsible?

      • People are using canvas bags now in greater or greater numbers whether cities ban free plastic bags or not.  So if your hysteria of canvas bags carrying disease were true, then you’re already in danger.  Nothing the city council did will have any effect on whether bacteria are brought in to the stores by customers.

        Of course, children in shopping carts sneezing on produce, and adults using their dirty hands to touch fruit and grocery cart handles are significantly more of a problem than canvas grocery bags.  Just as your kitchen counter carries 10 times more bacteria than your toilet seat.

        • > Of course, children in shopping carts sneezing on produce, and adults using their dirty hands to touch fruit and grocery cart handles are significantly more of a problem than canvas grocery bags.


          You just made that up, didn’t you.

          Do you have an scientific studies to back that up?

          Didn’t think so.

          – – – – – – – –

          “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts” – Richard Feynman

  42. It always amazes me that the ALGORe types will try to ban this and that “for the environment”

    then take a look at Algore’s house
    enormouse beyond word
    his carbon footprint is huge as he flies everywhere on his private planes and lives in a monstrous home/homes all over the place

    is this hypocrisy>

  43. “Probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium found in drinking water of 31 U.S. cities”

    By Lyndsey Layton
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, December 19, 2010; 12:02 AM


    Now the trust fund chidren will be washing their canvas Sierra Club grocery bags with the silk screen picture of a whale in an EPA approved front loading washing machine using carcinogen laden water!

    Now they’re going to be dragging carcinogens into food markets and delicassens and handing them to innocent unsuspecting grocery clerks.

    I guess they’ll just have to go back to using Evian bottled water in their washing machines.

  44. “E. coli, germs in reusable shopping bags could kill us, study says”

    “The law of the modern world states that any idea, especially those that sound really good at the time, has to be debunked, ripped apart and/or otherwise examined at length to find out how it can injure or kill us.”

    . . .

    Now cloth reusable shopping bags are the target, as these often filthy and germ-ridden things can make us sick – or worse.

    A joint food-safety study from the University of Arizona and Loma University in California found “reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous food-borne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health,” according to a UA News report.

    Researchers randomly tested reusable shopping bags used in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    “Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled,” the report quotes Charles Gerba, UA professor of soil, water and environmental science who co-authored the study.

    “Bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death. They are a particular danger for young children, who are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses.”

    We bet the bacteria levels are most dangerous when people stuff cheese, raw chicken and bleeding pork chops into the bags and then leave them in their trunks for two weeks.

    In any event, all these horrible and even fatal health problems can be averted with a simple task: wash the dang things.

    That little nugget of information, of course, appears after all the hoopla about how the cloth bags can kill us.

    At least the bags don’t suffocate small children.

    Los Angeles, perhaps not surprisingly, had the highest levels of bacteria in the bags. Researchers say the city’s weather is ripe for bacteria growth.

    California, o greenest of lands where smoking is banned on the beaches and in city parks, is also toying with the idea of banning plastic bags in stores throughout the state. Without first warning people the bags could kill them, the results could be disastrous.

    One proposal is to print instructions on the reusable bags that tell users to wash or bleach the bags between uses.

    Another is an all-out public education campaign that will probably cost millions of dollars and is based, pretty much, on common sense. Unless, of course, it does not seem common-sensical to wash something in which we carry produce, leaking milk and seeping raw meat.

    Maybe it’s not common sense. After all, 97 percent of the folks the germ study people interviewed said they never washed or bleached their bags. Perhaps such a campaign is necessary, as is a hefty dose of Tide.

    Reusable bag safety tips, courtesy of UA News:

    * When using reusable bags, consumers should be careful to separate raw foods from other food products.
    * Consumers should not use reusable food bags for other purposes such as carrying books or gym clothes.
    * Consumers should not store meat or produce in the trunks of their cars because the higher temperature promotes growth of bacteria, which can contaminate reusable bags.

  45. “Back to plastic? Reusable grocery bags may cause food poisoning”

    Posted: May 20, 2009, 11:00 AM by Karen Hawthorne

    Get out your bleach and launder those reusable fabric grocery bags after each use. You’re not clogging up landfill with plastic throw-aways, but your environmental conscientiousness could make you sick.

    A microbiological study — a first in North America — of the popular, eco-friendly bags has uncovered some unsettling facts. Swab-testing by two independent laboratories found unacceptably high levels of bacterial, yeast, mold and coliform counts in the reusable bags.

    “The main risk is food poisoning,” Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health, stated in a news release. Dr. Summerbell evaluated the study results.

    “But other significant risks include skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections,” he stated.

    The study found that 64% of the reusable bags tested were contaminated with some level of bacteria and close to 30% had elevated bacterial counts higher than what’s considered safe for drinking water.

    Further, 40% of the bags had yeast or mold, and some of the bags had an unacceptable presence of coliforms, faecal intestinal bacteria, when there should have been.

  46. I think San Jose police officials recently reported that there are 38,000 gang members in San Jose.

    Does the City Council really expect gang members to wash their canvas shopping bags before taking them to the grocery store?

    “You gotta problem with my grocery bag, bro?”

  47. That’s okay. Charge me for bags and I’ll just spend less on groceries to make up for it. The business suffers in the end. Nice going council people.

  48. “The Icky Side of ‘Green’ Grocery Bags”

    . . . . Researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson found that more than half of the reusable grocery bags they tested in a recent study were contaminated by fecal bacteria, and 17 percent were crawling with E. coli—two bugs that can cause severe stomach upset if ingested. (Store totes in a warm car trunk and the germs multiply evern more.)

    – – – – –

    Assessment of the Potential for Cross Contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags

    Charles P. Gerba, David Williams and Ryan G. Sinclair
    Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
    School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
    June 9, 2010

    “Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 12% of the bags and a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours the number of bacteria increased 10-fold indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags.”

    . . . .

    The indicator bacterium E. coli, used to indicate fecal contamination, was detected in 12% of the bags. The presence of these bacteria demonstrates reusable bags do get contaminated by enteric organisms and a risk from food borne pathogens does exist.

  49. Recently, I was on watch at my designated public health monitoring post at Whole Foods, profiling persons engaged in potentially risky public health behavior.

    I identified a fifty-ish woman with graying hair, tightly pulled back in a sixties “earth momma”  skull cap hairdo, heading out to the parking lot with three, pristine, gaily-colored, canvas shopping bags on her arms, crammed with pricy, organically grown boutique food items.

    I was unable to determine whether earth momma was utilizing the gaily colored Sierra Club bags with the picture of the polar bear, the gaily colored PBS bags with the picture of the sea bird, or the gaily colored NPR bag with the impressionist flower design.

    The earth momma opened the trunk of her antiseptically clean Prius and deposited the bags in the trunk.

    The Prius was accoutred with the customary Obama sticker.

    After closing the trunk, earth momma smiled the smug smile of a person who had just saved an entire planet—albeit a minor planet.  It was not a wide, toothy grin like she had saved Jupiter or Saturn or something.  Just a discreet, wry pursing of the lips, consistent with merely saving planet Earth.

    Now, I’m sure that some of you will assume that this is literary embellishment or hyperbola used just to construct a crude stereotype of a bag person.  But, no.  It’s true.  This is an actual, authenic sighting within our city’s borders of a person engaged in risky epidemiological behavior.

    Unfortunately, this risky bag behavior currently enjoys the blessing and endorsement of the City Council.  But instead of validating this dangerous behaviour, a wise City Council should be discouraging it.

  50. I think I will fill up my shopping cart go to the checkout stand and after the store rings me up and starts to bill me for the bags I’m going to tell them that if I don’t get the bags for FREE!!! then I’m not paying for my groceries! then let them put the back at more than the bags cost!! Let them bill the city of San Jose for the cost of melted ice cream and other frozen and half thawed foods. And do the same at all stores. This will create jobs for some poor sap that is in charge of putting things back!!  Just think about all the refrozen pizza and snacks that will be wasted!!

    • It occurred to me that this plastic bag ban may backfire on the City and hit it where it lives- in the sales tax revenue pocketbook. I went into Safeway the other night with 2 reusable bags and wound up limiting my purchases to what would fit into the 2 bags.
      One of the unintended consequences of this intrusive government regulation might be that people be a little more restrained in their consumption- not a bad thing necessarily- but contrary to San Jose’s insatiable thirst for more and more of the peoples’ money.

      • People are going to start to spend less, limiting their purchases only to the bags they have on hand. It is going to hurt the businesses. It is going to hurt the City where tax revenue is concerned. People are going to eliminate impulse buying. There’s ANOTHER hair-brained idea for ya.

  51. Freaking morons!  It is time to get out of the nanny state.  This does no good for anyone or anything.  Do they seriously think most people are going to trot paper bags back to the store?  It won’t happen.  Instead they will go in the trash where they take up a LOT more room than the thin plastic ever did and weigh scads more. 

    Ten cents and eventually a quarter for each and every bag???  Sheesh, I should be in the bag making business.  This is like 98% pure profit per bag as again, most people will not bring back their bags.  Perhaps we should have a “burn the bags day” in front of city hall.  Or turn it to City Haul but dropping off all our unwanted paper bags. 

    The worst of this is the uncontested idea that some bureaucrat has any right whatsoever to force all merchants and their customers to use whatever bag type please said bureaucrat this week.

  52. What cost?  A very very small fraction of a percent ends up making trouble for some poor creature somewhere.  This compares actually rather favorably to the cost of all the trees turned into paper bags and the much larger amount of landfill consumed when they inevitably are not recycled. 

    Look, if you think it is a great idea to use reusable bags or paper only then your are free to bring in your own bags and to ask for paper.  What in that gives you any right whatsoever to attempt to force me to do the same?

    How can it not be government control when the government is indeed forcing compliance and controlling what choices I can and cannot make for myself?

  53. is the plastic bags will be used, anyway. People will purchase plastic bags to take the place of the bags that the stores are not handing out. They will still be in use, so what good was this ban? People will just get them elsewhere.

  54. Yes, I’ll be shopping outside the city when I can. The plastic bag ban is fine with me. But the paper bag charge seems silly and should not have been linked to the ban. Boo on the city council fools. They can’t solve the fiscal issues they created with police/fire pension largess, so their dreaming up new ways to annoy residents.