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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Council votes to ban plastic bags in Los Angeles

Council votes to ban plastic bags in Los Angeles and hopes to pass similar restrictions statewide

Andy Keller (a.k.a. "The Original Bag Monster") shows support at a rally in Downtwon Los Angeles.
Andy Keller (a.k.a. "The Original Bag Monster") shows support at a rally in Downtwon Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to ban the sale of plastic bags in supermarkets, large retail pharmacies, liquor stores and food marts.

At a rally in downtown Los Angeles this morning, celebrities and politicians alike showed their support for the county ban. 

Board of Supervisors member Mark Ridley Thomas was on hand to inspire the crowd.

“Does anybody here want to ban these darn plastic bags,” Thomas called out to supporters, receiving a raucous “No!” from the crowd.

“Don’t you dare give up,” Thomas added. You’ve done too much work to give up now.”

Actress Amy Smart spoke in support of the ordinance as well, citing the colossal number of bags thrown out each year as detrimental to the environment.

“Every year we use 19 billion plastic bags,” said Smart. “If you stretch them end-to-end it would go from here to the moon and back 15 times.

“We only recycle less than 5% and the rest are going to landfills or the ocean,” added Smart.

The ban is a part of the county’s efforts to make Los Angeles environmentally friendly.  It will be able to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags that end up in landfills by 50 percent, according to environmental watchdog group Heal the Bay. 

The ban will be rolled out in phases through 2011, with all stores in compliance by the beginning of the 2012 calendar year.

Supporters of the ban are also hoping for the California state legislature to pass a similar ban for the entire state.  Brownley hailed today’s ban as a sign of leadership for Angelenos.

“Los Angeles isn’t waiting,” said Brownley. “They are leading, they are taking action…I applaud the country’s leadership to move forward with this very important action today.”

Brownley is the author of AB 1998, the state-wide version of the ban passed by the Board of Supervisors today.  Brownley, along with colleagues in the State assembly hope to pass the bill in the 2011 session. 

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