Bag that: San Jose bans most paper and plastic bags


Know the way to San Jose? You're not going to be able to follow a paper or plastic trail for much longer.

The city at the heart of Silicon Valley has become the latest in a string of large cities to ban retailers from giving out paper or plastic bags. Bags made of at least 40% recycled material could be used, but only for a small fee.

Nearby San Francisco banned plastic -- but not paper -- bags in 2007.

The city council passed the ordinance Tuesday night, and it won't take effect until 2011, pending legislative and environmental review. But the ban's passing no doubt will embolden other, "green-forward" cities to do the same.

Plastic bags, which have been criticized for taking up valuable space in landfills and killing marine life, are a nearly ubiquitous feature of American retailing. Slowly, that may be starting to change. In many European countries it's standard to bring your own bags to put your purchases in.

Besides the obvious benefits for the environment, perhaps if we had to find a bag for everything we bought, we wouldn't buy quite so much.

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