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Maureen Kreklow, left, helps friend Linda Norvell, right, both of Pacheco, bag her groceries at the WinCo Foods in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. Kreklow brought her own reusable shopping bags, while Norvell forgot about the new bag law in Pittsburg where they came together to shop. This was day two since the start of the city's plastic bag ban. The ban requires shoppers to either bring their own reusable shopping bags or pay 10 cents per paper bag. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

PITTSBURG -- The response to the city's ban on plastic bags rolled out earlier this month is ... well, a mixed bag.

The ban prevents retailers from giving customers plastic bags to carry away their merchandise. So shoppers have to either bring their own reusable shopping bags or pay a dime each for paper ones.

Nora Mejia's shopping cart held a few grocery items after she left the Safeway on Bailey Road. Without a bag.

"Because I don't want to pay more. That's enough," the Pittsburg resident said as to why she did not buy a paper bag a day after the ordinance went into effect Jan. 15.

Ramiro Rios opted to buy a paper bag for his purchases. "I think it's good," he said of the ordinance. "Next time, I will bring my own bag. Maybe this one," he said, looking at the bag holding his groceries.

Reusable shopping bags are on sale at the checkout counter at the WinCo Foods in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. This was day two since the
Reusable shopping bags are on sale at the checkout counter at the WinCo Foods in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. This was day two since the start of the city's plastic bag ban. The ban requires shoppers to either bring their own reusable shopping bags or pay 10 cents per paper bag. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

That is the whole idea behind the ordinance -- bring your own bags. It was unanimously approved last October by the City Council. The aim is to stop the blight caused by fly-away plastic bags, which can end up on roadways and in local waterways.

Dave Miller came out of the Safeway carrying milk and doughnuts in his hands. He was aware of the bag ban, but questioned whether it was needed given that there was a recycling bin at the store for plastic bags.

"Maybe I'll take a couple of old plastic bags and put them in my back pocket," he said. "My wife has the (reusable) bags. She does the main shopping."

Over at the WinCo grocery, Robert and Helena Bailey were stashing groceries stored in large reusable bags they had purchased but weren't that happy about having to do so.


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"It's ridiculous," Robert Bailey said. "To have to pay for a bag from a store that I am buying their product. It doesn't make sense."

The Baileys were not aware that the plastic bag ban was rolling out this month. "I have plenty of bags at home. Had I known, I would have brought them," Helena Bailey said.

Jim Wright approves of the ban.

"I think the bag ban is a good thing because it has less pollution going into the river," he said as he left the WinCo store with his groceries in paper sacks.

The ordinance requires retailers to charge a minimum of 10 cents per paper bag during the ordinance's first year, 15 cents the second year and 25 cents the third year and beyond. Those fees would go to retailers to help support marketing efforts to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags.

Under the ordinance, shoppers who use food stamps or Women, Infant and Children vouchers do not have to pay for papers bags. The plastic bag ban does not apply to restaurants, dry-cleaning bags or plastic bags used to store fresh produce, meat and seafood, prepared foods and prescription medicines. Brentwood and Oakley are considering plastic bag bans, while Antioch is not. In June, Richmond became the first Contra Costa city to ban plastic bags, followed by El Cerrito in August.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

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