A quick walk down Foothill Boulevard shows shoppers in San Luis Obispo have responded to the implementation of a county-wide ban on plastic bags — the majority of pedestrians now carry reusable bags full of groceries, in lieu of their previous bags.
Sentiments are varied after this week of getting used to the new law. Now that the ban has been enforced, the focus of shoppers is less on the environment and more on personal convenience.
“I understand that it’s good for the environment, but I think it’s a little extreme,” civil engineering sophomore Lauren DiCenzo said. “I think they should just promote not using plastic bags rather than banning them entirely, because it’s just really inconvenient.”
Even those who are readily complying with the ban have noticed its inconveniences.
Food science and nutrition senior Hailey Koch said this past weekend she forgot to bring bags when she was running errands with her visiting parents. She described the experience as being “kind of a hassle.”
Some opposers of the ban, such as DiCenzo, acknowledge it makes sense for certain people, but not necessarily for the college students, who make up a large portion of the population in San Luis Obispo.
“I understand that for families it makes sense — and my family does that — but while I’m here at college I don’t really want to do that,” DiCenzo said.
Despite student reservations, the usual hustle and bustle of grocery store checkout lanes is now even more populated with stands full of reusable bags. Some grocery stores, such as Albertsons, are even offering free bags depending on how much customers spend, and many have already given away and sold a large number of the bags.
Presumably because of the amount of advertising that highlighted the ban, many shoppers have actually kept it in mind and brought reusable bags when they shop. Some, such as Koch, make things easier by keeping bags in their cars.
“I have so many reusable bags that it’s not a big deal to me, but I have to be conscientious and keep them in my car,” Koch said.
Though the future of the ban is still unclear — a similar ban in Santa Cruz was under scrupulous attention by its opposers when it went into effect in March and was later repealed, only to be brought back once again by the Santa Cruz City Council. Opposers of the ban are already calling for similar action to be taken in San Luis Obispo.
“It’s annoying because it’s way inconvenient to have to bring your own bags instead of going there and getting them like it’s always been,” business administration sophomore Zach Bernstein said. “We should go back to how it used to be.”