Town Square

Post a New Topic

Bag ban gets council's OK

Original post made on Dec 5, 2012

The days of getting plastic grocery bags in Mountain View are numbered. City Council members voted on Tuesday to ban the distribution of most plastic bags in Mountain View starting on Earth Day next year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 1:28 PM

Comments (45)

Posted by Results Don't Lie
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I used to be somewhat sceptical about a bag ban's usefulness to a community. Then I read the report about how much the recent bag bans in other local areas have reduced trash in the local waterways of those towns that have it (and down stream)
I'm all in favor of the ban now. Color me converted.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm

"Education doesn't work and plastic bags don't really recycle," Bryant said. "It's not been that long since we didn't use single-use plastic bags. It was only in mid 1980s that big industry decided to make more money by making plastic bags. Life can go on very well without single-use plastic bags."

WRONG. It was in the mid-1980s that "Environmentalists" predicted, with their Eviron Mental powers, that paper bags were depleting the forests, and PUSHED the switch to plastic bags. I have little doubt that these "Environmentalists" were funded and deeply connected to the plastics industry, just as anti-smoking groups are funded by Big Pharma and the Anthropogenic Climate Change crowd is funded by Big Oil, but let's be clear about the actual PROCESS of corporate greenwashing and how it works.

Incidentally, most of the plastic grocery bags in use here are made in America. Where was your cute li'l bacteria-infested reusable bag made?

Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

AC is a registered user.

That someone said "Education doesn't work" bothers me immensely.

As a resident and a citizen, I'll obey with these laws without complaining too much (even though I re-use plastic bags for garbage bags).

But really. "Education doesn't work" is a very very very bad context to be coming from.

Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Businesses should be strictly prohibited from handing out any bags. That way people are forced to bring their own bags, and they had better be made of environmentally friendly materials such as hemp. Citizens, let's not forget that plastic bags will be a terrible eyesore once the El Camino "Grand Boulevard" and "May Day" parade route is completed.

Councilhuman Bryant is absolutely right about education not working; however, reeducation does work - preferably in a labor camp somewhere in the central valley.

As for councilhumans Inks and Means: Pish posh on all this individual choice nonsense. Citizens have clearly and repeatedly demonstrated their inability to make wise choices. It is incumbent upon the government to gently but firmly guide them in the right direction. Failing this see the paragraph on reeducation above.

Finally, why not levy a 2% bag reclamation tax on all purchases made within the city limits. This money would be used to mitigate the horrendous damage that the plastics bags have done to the local environment, or it could be used to commission more pretty drawings on the impact of high speed rail in Mountain View. I'm good with either.

Posted by Socialism at it's finest
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

"Tim James, a representative of the California State Grocers Association, supported the ban and said he had not heard any concern about the spread of germs from grocers or health inspectors."

Tim where have you been living, in a cave? Oh wait, u work for the Grocers, no wonder, this ban will help to increase there profits.

That's the bottom line. It's not about the environment, it's about fooling people to believe it is.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm


And Inks and Means drag out that crazy ol' opposing stance: This issue "is a limit on our personal freedom"!? If that's the extent of their analytical skills and political compass then I recommend they both resign immediately from the City Council.

We need better insight than silly reactionary rationales like that esp when we are talking about an issue where we have so many other options for bagging our groceries eg reusables designed for the purpose, paper bags saved and reused, plastic bags saved and reused. My personal freedom deserves a higher standing than one based on bagging groceries.

That "personal freedom" ruse is an insult to my intelligence and the intelligence of my neighbors.

Posted by GPA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

The word "Socialism" has been misused in so many ways by so many ignorant people that it is a meaningless word now in most respects.

Posted by Now what
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I've never bought Hefty bags for my trash. I've always used the paper or plastic bags that my groceries were placed in. Does this ban mean that I now have to purchase the extra strong heavy duty plastic Hefty bags???

Posted by Mocking Bird
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Somehow I'll survive this ordeal. Reading the comments, Im not so sure about the rest of you. Good luck!

Posted by Perplexed
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Additionally, under what authority can government dictate the price a vendor must charge for a bag? What if a vendor chooses to distribute paper bags for free?

Posted by Respect The Beach
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

The USE of plastic bags is NOT being banned. The DISTRIBUTION of them is being CURTAILED in certain situations, in the hopes that there will be fewer plastic bags given out.

As someone who has participated in many beach cleanups for local Surfrider Foundation chapters, I am appreciate that plastic grocery bag laws have reduced their presence.

Go on a beach or waterway cleanup. Just one.

Oh yeah, you will also end up being in favor of banning cigarettes. ALL OF THEM. Forever and ever. Hell, I've gone to Surfrider beach cleanups and picked up fifty cigarette butts and 20-30 plastic bags in the parking lot -- before I stepped foot on the beach. And yes, that stuff gets blown into the water.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm

WRONG! You are wrong. Environmentalists did not push plastic. They pushed getting rid of paper. I am sure that reusable would have been pushed.

Posted by @AC
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Well, education may have worked on you, but it did not work on the masses. There are just too many people who ignored all of the education.

I am sure she did not try to offend...but it is the truth. The education that has been going on for years has not worked, or we would not need to do this.

Posted by Dear Now What
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm

There ARE other choices than "heavy duty plastic Hefty". You may need to buy something some research, look in the store shelves, ask around. I am sure it will be ok.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I seem to have merited an impostor. No, the great and mystical Environ Mentalists said NOTHING about reusable bags back in the 1980s. I was there. They said plastic bags were the "ecological" alternative.

Posted by Ryan
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Just for the record: "single use" is a complete mis-characterization. I've always used plastic bags as garbage bags. That's OK though, I guess we'll just start paying money for larger plastic bags that actually are single use.

Posted by Modern Man
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

Who cares what anyone said back in 1980s. The issue is what is the right choice NOW. Back in the old days it was common to use blood letting as a medial treatment. I'm sure when they decided to stop doing it there was someone complaining about "These medical extremists kept telling us that blood letting was good!"
That does not make the reason to continue blood letting a good one, and it does not mean that they should have continued it.
Same with plastic bags...thought they might be good, but now the evidence shows otherwise. As times move on we discover that the old ways are not always the best ways and so we evolve and change. This obviously bristles those who are more resistant to change.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 7:34 am

Use to be against these band, my time and my life on a reuseable bag. Folk, serious how much time does it take to have bags in your trunk or a cost hook on your door. The ban doesn't bother me.

Posted by Now what
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

Seems to me the city council is all over the place on this they want to keep plastic bags out of the waterways? If so than why make grocers charge for paper bags? If they are trying to protect the environment than why aren't they concerned that all of the landfills will now be filled with plastic Hefty or Glad bags? If they want people to use re-usable bags for grocery shopping than this will definitely mean people will have to use Hefty/Glad bags for their trash. Seems to me the only people who benefit from this ban are the makers of plastic trash bags. Nice going city council!

Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Of course it isn't the bags that determine if they're single-use, but users. "Single-use bags" is rhetorical spin. A pity that no one on the Council is reported pointing this out.

In my and other households, plastic store bags routinely do further duty, for later shopping, or wrapping trash (per city trash pick-up instructions). We'll now have to buy new bags for this, which then WILL have single use.

Anecdotes of entangled Mountain View birds may be sincere, but they're anecdotes -- demagoguery. Their authors could equally have offered anecdotes of (other people, if not themselves) responsibly re-using plastic bags.

Now if the data (not just rhetoric) still show discarded bags a problem, I guess we need regulations. But please let's keep them grounded in reality.

Posted by Nikonbob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

Congratulations to the council on making the right decision, except of course to Means and Inks and their typical "business-first" opposition.
@Now what...plastic bags going into landfill isn't the issue. It's the plastic bags littering the streets and waterways that are the issue.

It's encouraging to read so much support for the change, as opposed to the usual crazies that comment on the Town Square.

Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Dec 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

gcoladon is a registered user.

Could I pose a question to passionate the community here on this thread? I would have asked this in public comment, if I had been able to make the meeting, but I was only able to watch it on webcast.

If the problem with plastic bags is that they end up in waterways etc and need to be cleaned up, what if we totalled up the amount of time & money it costs to do all the bag cleanup here in the county or the bay area, and divided that by the number of bags that are handed out, and added a surcharge to each bag that's handed out that would cover the cost of the cleanup?

Adding such a charge would very likely reduce use of the plastic bags, in addition to 'internalizing' the externalities associated with plastic bag use. The surcharge could be updated periodically to correctly cover the costs associated with plastic bag use.

A similar alternative would be to charge merchants a bulk surcharge on the purchase of plastic bags for distribution. This would move the incentive to reduce & reuse from the consumer to the merchant, but perhaps be easier to account for than a per-sale surcharge.

I personally use reusable bags or my hands almost every time I shop. But I respect that other people may have their own reasons for doing differently. And, I admonish checkout clerks that don't ask if I want a bag for that one item I bought before putting it in a plastic bag. I encourage everyone who cares about the environment to take a similar stand when you're out 'in the world'.

Posted by mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

So now instead of using plastic grocery bags for garbage and dog waste, I am going to have to buy plastic bags for these purposes. How does this save the environment? I think it just saves Safeway, Target, etc., the cost of supplying the bags and makes money for Glad and Hefty, but does not actually benefit the environment because I'm still using the same amount of plastic.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Show me a creek or river "choked" with plastic bags in Mountain View. I promise you there isn't one.

Also, there is no sea of plastic bags floating out in the middle of the ocean someplace. That's all urban myth designed to scare people.

The poor birds stuck in these evil bags. Again, good images. I've walked in many parks. Never seen a bird stuck in anything.

Can I live with no plastic bags.. sure I'll live. But why does a store have to charge me for a paper bag?

Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

AC is a registered user.

Just to respond to an earlier comment, let me please reiterate that I really don't have a problem with the decision that was made.

I have a problem with *how* it was made.

And I will agree that the "education didn't work". We better find a way to make it work; because there is more issues than plastic bags that is impacted by this.

With regard to this issue, I wouldn't ban plastic bags personally. I'd make them expensive to use. Although less expensive than Glad or Hefty. Every third or forth shopping trip, I'd ante up a few cents per bag and use them for dog doo and garbage bags, and use my canvas bags (which of course I do have) all the rest of the time. Less money to me, preserves my right to choose, but I have to pay for it. I'm cool with pay-to-play.

The idea of calculate the clean-up cost of plastic bags, take the number, divide by bags, and pass the cost to the consumer seems to make sense to me too.

I think "education doesn't work" because we don't illustrate the consequences; and then when we don't own up to the consequences, we make rules to skirt around the issue.

As a society, it seems to me that we're into convenience, and not so hot on consequences. I think of that as the root problem for a lot of things.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2012 at 6:30 am

After watching the tape, I don't believe Mr. Debolt really captured the arguments very well. Most of the council majority basically said, I don't use bags, I dont like bags and if this is true for me, then it should be true for you, so lets ban them. I think that's why Means made the point about intolerance towards people who do use plastic bags and do believe they are not that harmful to the environment when compared to the alternative of paper. In fact the representative from Sam Mateo, admitted as much. Their EIR did not perform a benefit cost analysis because it probably would have confirmed other government studies (which were conveniently excluded) that show lower GHG's for carrier plastic bags than paper and most types of reusable bags. His comments about ignoring costs and claiming the study only estimates environmental impacts without measuring costs and ignoring all other impacts seemed to make the EIR a useless document for good decision making. As others have noted, most of the council make their decisions based on their personal preferences ( I dont like this type of housing, or restaurant or smoking) and some people think that's OK as long as they align with mine.
I thought Inks made the best arguments. He didnt let his own personal opinion about plastic bags limit him in searching for the truth and making a decision in the best interests of all residents. My own personal opinion is that people will now bear the costs and inconveniences of choosing more expensive alternatives which will be more harmful to the environment in terms of GHG's but not as visible. We may not see as many carrier bags but will have more paper and cloth in landfills.

Kudos to others who see the silliness of banning one type of single use bag while several other types are on the shelves in the store to sell.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

"Go on a beach or waterway cleanup. Just one.

"Oh yeah, you will also end up being in favor of banning cigarettes. ALL OF THEM. Forever and ever. Hell, I've gone to Surfrider beach cleanups and picked up fifty cigarette butts and 20-30 plastic bags in the parking lot -- before I stepped foot on the beach. And yes, that stuff gets blown into the water."

Cigarette butts are good for birds:

Web Link

Posted by Don't know how I'll surive it all
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I'm laughing (a lot) at the same curmudgeons I see day after day, complaining about any change or evolution our little society 'round these parts takes. Today its trash-denial tomorrow it will be some anti-bike rant, and the next day, oh, who knows, maybe _something_ that will equate to "socialism" in their eyes and a chance for them to use some catch phrase like "Nanny-state"
Change is rough for some.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm

It depends on the change. In the past thirty years, Reaganomics has set Labor back about 500 years, we've seen the smoking ban extend from airplanes and restaurants to streets, parks, and beaches, we're at war with every country that didn't get a Hannukah card from Ariel Sharon, foreign invaders have bankrupted Medi-Cal and nearly every aspect of our flimsy social benefits system, the USA has endorsed torture as a valid method of interrogation, and most of the Bill Of Rights voided by the ironically named PATRIOT Act.

All of this happened incrementally. So I hope you'll forgive me if I am skeptical about any other great ideas that our Dear Leaders have in store for us.

Posted by Sam Beal
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Education DOES NOT WORK only a BAN on stupid plastic bags is the solution. If you disagree drive to a town that doesn't enforce a BAN - while you can.

Posted by Mike
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Old Ben, sounds like you've got more Federal gripes than local ones. There's probably some good forums for those.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Mike, the smoking ban is local, unscientific, and ridiculous, as is the ban on carrying ANYTHING for self-defense except pepper spray unless you are a campaign donor and can obtain a CCW through Santa Clara County's remarkably corrupt political system.

Pepper spray is a joke, I emptied a can of it into an attacking crackhead's face in Brooklyn some years ago. All it did was aggravate him further.

The government has no business micromanaging our lives. Mountain View City Council is pretty much a pack of tax parasites in bed with real estate developers and other modern-day robber barons. They come up with these idiotic bans to make it look like they're doing something. I haven't seen the kind of corruption that this county revels in since I left New Jersey.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Typical liberal response. If something fails it just means we're not trying hard enough.

It's already illegal to litter. Been illegal for a long time.

But that didn't work. So let's pass another law making it more illegal.

Posted by ANST
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm

punnisher: what is the best use for cigarette butts?

Posted by Look ahead
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Anyone who questions a smoking ban these days needs his head (and lungs) examined. Your right to pollute went away when we all got so close together that your exhale became my inhale. Plastic bags will probably be similar in another decade or so.

Posted by Don't know how I'll surive it all
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 8, 2012 at 6:55 am

There they are! The curmudgeons triplets! Always posting at about the same time. Hmm, interesting. Anyway, your anger and thinly veiled threats/jokes about murdering public officials is always fun reading. You rock angry man! (or men)

Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 11, 2012 at 12:00 am

What does a TAX on paper bags have to do with the Pacific Gyr?
Web Link

The local politician's are just as bad as those in D.C., always try to take advantage of a "crises" to introduce an unrelated TAX.

There has never been a creek, river or ocean clogged with brown paper grocery bags... No birds, fish or mammals have ever been killed by a stray brown paper bag.

Let paper bags be FREE! They will be recycled (probably into compost) by our garbage company when we dispose of them.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Things to point in the day of banning plastic bags. Reusable cloth bags that you put in your car or over a door hook. Grab before you go out, I put mine over my doorknob. Dog poop, I have seen dog pop gloves, put them in your pocket or purse, leave some in your trunk. Why not allow 2 free plastic bags, the rest you have to pay for.

We are a growing a planet, we only have so much space, yet we expect to have space for our trash, our food, our water, and other resources. Yet we want to have our cars, our homes, our leisure, our jobs and our resources.

Years ago I remember reading a story about Shoreline Park, they dug a hole for reason that had something to do with the dump. I remember looking at the photo and seeing all those white plastic bags.

Posted by Laura
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Personally and a lot of people I know use our plastic bags multiple times..NEVER single use. I line all me garbage cans with them and do not change out till they are soiled. Now I will have to "purchase" plastic bags, and still you have plastics going into the environment... Tell me how this is helping the environment, really?

Posted by PV Resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I live in Palo Alto and we have had no plastic bags for some time. I enjoy the fact that I have been able to get plastic bags in Mountain View as I use them all the time. They are so useful to me, carrying things in wet weather being one of them.

I can guarantee that no bags I have acquired in Mountain View have been allowed to get into the creeks or the Bay. However, I have on many occasions seen badly packed garbage trucks on the highway with a steady stream of trash flying out the back and this is probably where a great deal of garbage comes from that ends in the Bay or the creeks.

If you really want to do something useful, ban double wrappers on bread. It is completely unnecessary to have double wrapped bread, one bread bag per loaf would suffice. Then these bags can be used for dogwalking or putting diapers or messy garbage in before putting them in the cans.

Posted by SaveOur Waterways/junk
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I agree re: trash and plastic in the ocean and waterways!!!
Other plastics do get recycled into other plastic bags, so that is very good at least.
Try hard to carry a couple of reusable bags, in your trunk!
Easy to carry in trunk, take it into the store. I have to train my self to have them in the right places, so I just get a few more just in case.

Posted by curious
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 12, 2012 at 11:22 pm


"Council huMAN"! How unbelievably sexist!!

That should be "council homo sapiens".

Wait a minute, "council homo"?? That's not what I meant. Although as Seinfeld would say, not that it MATTERS!

How about "council perchild"? Yeah that's it. The perfect politically correct phrase.

Although, given the political leanings of the council majority, it should comrade politburo member.

Whew, yeah that's it

Posted by 5Cents
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

Why not a 5 cent deposit on plastic bags? Works for cans and bottles. Customers get to have bags, keep them if they like or return them to a recycling facitity for a refund of deposit.

Tip: buy reusuable bags that can be washed and wash them often to prevent germs from contaminating your groceries.

Posted by Simple solution
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

If you don't like the ban bag, go somewhere that still has bags. Where I work they don't have stupid council members that have to follow the trend. So I will do my shopping in that town.

Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Feb 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

gcoladon is a registered user.

The Mercury News just ran a nice article about bag bans

"Lockstep march to ban plastic bags"
Web Link

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Mountain View Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

What to do if you get a noisy Rheem/Ruud heat pump water heater
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 3,969 views

Do Palo Alto city officials ever, ever have enough money?
By Diana Diamond | 38 comments | 2,715 views

Don't Wait Till Your Child is 42 to Say "I'm Proud of You."
By Chandrama Anderson | 5 comments | 1,883 views

Restaurateur behind pizza favorites Terún and iTalico sets sights on San Carlos
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,603 views

Travelin’ Solo: Salvation Mountain and East Jesus
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,093 views