This was a long time coming. California's Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB270) that makes his state the first in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. This widens the ban that is already in effect in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles County, among other places, and retailers will have until July 2015 to turn off the litter machine. “This bill is a step in the right direction - it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Indeed, I hope that other states will follow in California's footsteps, until we eventually have a country-wide ban, or at least a nominal tax, on plastic bags.
Grocers will be required to charge at least 10 cents for each recycled paper bag or reusable bag provided to a customer (going from free to even a small fee makes the total number of bags used plummet, as we've seen in places where a simple plastic bag tax, rather than a complete ban, has been put on the books).