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Ban the Bag, Or Pay the Price

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"Paper or Plastic?" is the somewhat innocuous and expected question we're faced each time we check out at the grocery store. But what if that question came with a price tag, like 15 cents for every plastic bag we required when making a purchase? Or what if we banned the bag altogether?

If a Van Nuys man's proposal becomes law, shoppers might have to pony up the cash in order to carry out in plastic. According to ABC7, "Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, has a proposal that would force more stores to reduce the number of plastic bags they give out -- a 35 percent by 2011 and 70 percent by 2013." And if those goals aren't met...well, the onus goes to the consumer to either bring their own bags or fork over the money, because shops will "have to either stop giving out plastic bags, or charge customers up to 15 cents apiece."

One large multi-national store already has a plastic bag surcharge. IKEA asks customers to pay 5 cents per bag they need, and encourages shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. The program has been successful, and the 5 cent fee nominal enough to not irk shoppers. But triple that amount might have some shoppers upset.

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Advocates of a plastic bag fee, and the companion movement to encourage everyone to use reusable bags, cite the environment as the number one reason to make the change. "The environmental group Californians Against Waste says residents of the Golden State use 19 billion plastic bags a year, and many end up as litter or in landfills." The production of bags uses a staggering amount of oil, and many species in the animal world are harmed by plastic bags littering their natural habitats.

So can we handle life without bags? Many say "why not?"