Students waited in line in the UCLA store this week to make last-minute purchases as part of the familiar back-to-school bustle.
Once each student reaches a register, many choose not to buy the 10 cent paper bag.
A citywide ban on plastic bags went into effect on Jan. 1, the result of an ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council in June. The ordinance banned plastic bags from large retail stores, pharmacies, grocery stores and small convenience stores. The change will affect several Westwood locations, including Target, Ralphs and Rite Aid.
For some stores that already use paper bags, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, the ban results in little to no change. Places like Ralphs, however, will now charge 10 cents for paper bags and offer reusable bags for sale.
In compliance with the new ordinance, Associated Students UCLA put a ban on plastic bags throughout the entire UCLA store and all other stores across campus, regardless of whether they are technically affected by the ban.
“In order to support sustainability we decided to eliminate plastic bags storewide,” said Karen Noh, special projects director for ASUCLA. “We wanted to comply with the law and make sure the customer experience is good and people don’t get frustrated with or confused by the change.”
When given the option to purchase a paper bag for 10 cents, shoppers often declined. One such student was third-year neuroscience student Megan Davis.
Davis said she did not know the plastic bag ban was going on in the UCLA store, but she had recently discovered Ralph had gotten rid of plastic bags and was both annoyed and surprised by the change.
Kendra Doyel, a spokeswoman for Ralphs, said Ralphs has seen a positive response from the Westwood community regarding the elimination of plastic bags and a continuing trend of shoppers using reusable bags.
Davis said Ralphs gave her and her roommates each a free reusable bag since the switch to paper bags had just started. She added that even though 10 cents doesn’t seem like much, it eventually adds up for college students. She said she will now bring the reusable bag whenever she goes to the store.
“It’s just really inconvenient,” Davis said.
Mitchel Misaki, a second-year psychology student, said he doesn’t like paying for the paper bags but understands the environmental benefits to using them.
ASUCLA is doing its best to not inconvenience students, and the stores are trying to make the transition as smooth as possible, Noh said. The stores have signs up to alert students of the recent change.
ASUCLA expects to get in reusable bags to sell as an alternative to paper bags in the near future, Noh said.