The Valley Goes Bag-less

Jessika Valderas has her hands full as she carries out her purchases sans bag.
Jessika Valderas has her hands full as she carries out her purchases at Von’s sans bag.

As of November 8, 2016, under Proposition 67, plastic single-use bags have been banned from stores such as Walmart and Vons in California, which means shoppers must use thicker, multi-use bags.  However, they are not free and add an extra 10 cents to the grocery bill.

Written into the measure is $2 million redistributed to plastic bag manufacturers to help save jobs and transition to the creation of thicker, reusable plastic bags.

The measure was passed Tuesday, November 8, and overnight Walmart and Vons took out the single-use bags and replaced them with recyclable ones for sale, causing some confusion among consumers.  One valley resident recounted the story of being at Walmart shortly after elections and, not realizing what had happened, paying for ten bags to accommodate their groceries.

So far Imperial Valley residents are taking the change well.  Some had begun using reusable bags before the vote, choosing to be completely bag-less.  Seasoned travelers were in the habit of carrying bags since places like Los Angelos, San Diego, Indio, and Palm Desert charged for plastic bags before the vote.

“You could see it coming. It’s inconvenient, but at the same time I believe it’s something we need to do,” said Joe, a Brawley resident.

Still, forgetting bags is an issue for some, though consumers are otherwise positive and even laugh a bit about it.

“I was shocked because it happened so quickly, but I know it’s for a good reason,” said Heidi Jauregui, “but still I constantly forget to bring my bags.”

One Walmart employee said she was ready for the change since there had been an announcement to phase out the old bags.

Residents mainly favor the change due to the perceived positive impact on the environment, the original idea behind the measure.

“I think it’s going to help out, less trash in the streets without the bags floating around,” said Von’s customer, Andy.

“I’m for it,” said Ralph Woelke, one Brawley resident who had already been going bag-less before the measure came into effect, “it keeps a little excess out of the landfills and a little bit out of the environment, so I’m okay with it.”

As of now, Walmart, Vons, the El Centro El Sol Market, and Target are following the new mandate and require shoppers to use recyclable bags for their purchases. Other stores such as Best Buy in El Centro still bag purchases the old fashioned way.