Plastic bag ban inspires new reusable trendy alternatives

    Although reusable bags are used for grocery shopping, students find a new purpose for them as book bags and lunch bags because of their convenience and space.
    Photo credit by Neelofer Lodhy / Assistant Features Editor

    Paper or plastic? The most frequently asked question when a customer walks up to the cash register. But with the new plastic bag ban passed in Los Angeles, shoppers aren’t getting the second option anymore. Now Angelinos must go to new alternatives to remain disposable free and stylish while buying their produce.


    Los Angeles adopted an ordinance in June 2013 banning single-use plastic bags and placing a 10 cent charge on paper bags.This became effective in January 2014 for large supermarkets and will expand July 2014 to convenient store and smaller markets and drug stores, after an amendment to Title 12 Environmental Protection of the Los Angeles County Code. A few other cities, including San Francisco and Santa Monica, have recently placed a ban on plastic bags as well. The ordinance No. 182604  will be maintained in stores regulating the use of single-use carryout bags in order to promote the use of reusable bags.


    Julian Morago, freshman radiological sciences major, said he uses reusable bags to help reduce environmental impact, including plastic bags found on beaches and landfill buildup.

    “There are large gyres,” Morago said. “These gyres are so dense you could walk on them…and the environment is so damaged, including the marine life.”

    Northridge local Diana Wilson, 72, expressed that though it can be a hassle to remember to bring bags, it benefits the environment.
    Photo by Neelofer Lodhy/Assistant Features Editor


    Reusable bags are environmentally friendly and can be used repeatedly to reduce waste. Many places such as Target give discounts when you use recyclable bags. While the savings are only 5 cents for each reusable bag, it is still money in the piggy bank. Reusable bags are sturdy and much more durable than those flimsy plastic bags. No need to worry about your heavy groceries falling down because of the bag tearing anymore.


    Sangita Dube, faculty member of College of Health and Human Development, said she uses reusable bags. But when she forgets to bring it with her, she would rather get recycled paper bags over plastic.

    “I buy my reusable bags at the grocery store. Usually the proceeds go to a non-profit organization for the month of October,” Dube said. “The grocery store that I go to has reusable bags for Breast Cancer Awareness. All the proceeds go towards funds to fight breast cancer. So I bought five of those.”


    Although reusable bags are eco-friendly they also spread bacteria and disease. Just remember to clean and disinfect regularly. The American Cleaning Institute recommends washing recyclable bags after each use by following the fabric care label. For insulated bags, use a disinfecting or sanitizing cloth to wipe the insides and along the seams. In addition, make sure to use separate bags for raw meats, seafood, produce, and non-food items. After cleaning, store your bags in a cool, dry environment to help prevent bacteria buildup.


    Not only do reusable bags need to be cleaned, they also need to be remembered. If you forget to bring them with you while shopping, it defeats the whole purpose. Keep a collapsible alternative that will fit in your purse.


    Embrace in an eco-chic lifestyle and carry along a reusable bag. Take the pledge and when asked paper or plastic next time, hand over your hip reusable bag and go green.

    Target, Trader Joe’s and retailers such as Urban Outfitters have all jumped on the reusable-tote-bag wagon, offering their customers an array of trendy, reusable bags.
    Photo by Neelofer Lodhy/Assistant Features Editor


    Here are five alternatives to plastic and paper bags that are both stylish and reusable because let’s be honest, who wants to be pay 10 cents for a paper bag?


    1) The Organic Cotton String Bag: great for fruits and vegetables. Holds up to 40 pounds of groceries and is good for shopping in bulk. Opting for an organic string bag as an alternative provides a double boost for the environment.

    2) The Tote Bag: economically smart and durable. This is one of the most popular bags for consumers because it’s cheap. Very sturdy for heavy items and contains a cardboard flap at the bottom, which helps hold items up to 20 pounds. Can be found at your local stores such as Target, Albertsons and Walmart. Another plus is the $4.79 price tag for a set of two.

    3) The Eco Hip Pod: stylish and profits go to a good cause. This messenger style collapsible bag comes in different patterns and styles, which can be found at  For those who want to remain eco-chic this bag holds up to 20 pounds and one percent of the profits goes towards donations for ocean reserves.

    4) The Quest eco-friendly insulated grocery bag: keeps groceries hot or cold for up to five hours. Comes in different colors.  Resistant to mold, mildew and staining. Made from poly-fiber nylon and ranges in different sizes. Can be found at your local stores such as Walmart for under $12.

    5) The Recycled PET Mesh produce bag: comes in a set of four sacks ranging in sizes. Foldable bags that you can keep in your purse. Contains a smooth texture and lightweight with a drawstring for closure. Made from Eco Circle fabric and 55 percent recycled content, this high-quality polyester fabric can hold up to 25 pounds.