This may soon change if a proposed ban of all plastic and paper bags is approved by Florida legislatures. The bill calls for the bags to be phased out over a five year period, and eventually banned, forcing people to use their own reusable bags wherever they would normally use plastic or paper bags.
According to the Retail Report that was released by the Department of Environmental Protection, the usage of plastic bags would be phased out over five years. At first, commercials would be run to educate the public about how harmful the bags are to the environment. Then, over the next four years, an increasing tax would be charged for each bag used. Eventually, a total ban on bags used in all retail stores would be enforced.
Florida is looking to become the first state to issue the ban. Gov. Charlie Crist told WPLG Miami that his greatest concern is not about how much the ban would cost, but how it would impact Florida’s environment.
“It’s hard to grow up in Florida and not care about our beauty,” said Crist.
Cruz says that he cares about the environment, but hasn’t seen a major problem occurring with the use of plastic bags. “In fact, I actually recycle most of the bags I use, either by reusing them for lunches, or by taking them to a store that recycles them,” said Cruz, 28.
The American Chemistry Council says that roughly 100 billion paper and plastic bags are used each year in the United States alone. Of that, only 10 percent are recycled.
Publix is one place where people can bring both paper and plastic bags back to be recycled. Unlike most businesses, Publix isn’t worried about the ban. Moultrie Publix Customer Service Manager Gail Harrington only sees positive outcomes from the future ban. “Not only will it save our company money, but the big win is for the environment,” she said.
Publix shopper Amanda Riddle, already uses reusable bags.
"When they first started coming out a few years ago, it was a no-brainer for me to invest in a few.”Riddle estimates that she’s saved close to a thousand plastic bags by buying just four reusable bags.
Harrington agrees. “We’ve seen a significant increase in reusable bags coming through on a day to day basic.” She said she believes about one in every three of four customers has at least one reusable bag.
An all out ban would force everyone to invest in some sort of reusable bag, whether it be a backpack, a canvas bag, or not even needing a bag at all, something Cruz might try.
“I usually shop daily, and don’t get that many groceries, so maybe the answer to my problem is to not get bags at all and to just carry the food myself,” said Cruz.