Alameda County, Calif., where I live, has banned stores from giving out plastic bags as of Jan. 1. It’s great news that was a long time coming, considering the county is home to eco-minded cities Berkeley and Oakland.

The county suffers from its fair share of local plastic bag pollution. “Each year, the equivalent of 100,000 kitchen garbage bags worth of litter end up in our local waterways, including an estimated 1 million disposable plastic bags,” says Jim Scanlin, manager of Alameda County’s Clean Water Program. And without a water treatment plant, all that plastic flows directly into local creeks and San Francisco Bay.

Most businesses have switched to paper bags. But because of a loophole in the law, they actually don’t have to — they can simply call a plastic bag “reusable,” like this awesome one I got from my local liquor store the other day.

photo (54)

You can tell it’s a “reusable” plastic bag and not one of those regular garbagey plastic bags because not only does it say “reusable” on it, but it is also green! And it cost me 10 cents, like all bags do now, as an incentive for customers to bring their own to the store.

I’ve already seen three of these in gutters between my house and said liquor store, on their way to a garbage patch. Good job, plastic bag ban, keep up the good work!