By Lark Starkey

Over 32 million pounds of plastic waste was produced in America in 2013, a coliseum of plastic that is harmful to our aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem.  The facts on how plastic threatens our world are becoming better understood, including how it  kills wildlife and toxifies the food chain. Undoubtedly the most effective way to prevent plastic from doing harm is to prevent it from entering the environment in the first place. Proposition 67 does just that by banning plastic bags in large grocers, pharmacies, and convenience stores.

But there’s more. Due to the concept of precedent, your thumb’s up on Prop 67 this November 8th effects not only California, but the entire U.S. But what is precedent? And why does California’s decision regarding Prop 67 hold such weight?

Do you remember when you used to get an allowance? I do.

Right before my 10th birthday, I decided to have a serious conversation with my dad about raising my allowance from 75 cents to one whole dollar.  Both my older brothers’ already had that conversation, and had already received this 25-cent increase upon turning 10. Their previous conversations practically ensured that I would also get the 25-cent increase in my allowance. They had essentially set a precedent in the quasi-legal bubble of our family regarding allowances.

Now lets think about California as my dad and the upcoming decision regarding Prop 67, the plastic bag ban, as my older brothers. If Prop 67 gets the thumbs up, it will set a precedent for other states to more easily pass similar bans.

However, if my dad had decided not to raise my brothers’ allowances, it would hardly seem fair to raise my own… I might not have even thought of the conversation. Same same with Prop 67. If it gets the thumbs down, it’s likely that sibling states will struggle to get statewide bans passed. There may even be a growing trend of state preemption of local ban bags, which has already happened in Indiana, Florida, Wisconsin and Idaho.

So what about Prop 65? It’s a little like that slightly mean cousin who would offer me candy in closed fists and then open them to reveal… nothing. Leaving me in a puddle of shame over my own gullibility and disappointment over the lost possibility of delighted taste buds. Prop 67 straight out bans the bags and allows customers to purchase a paper or reusable bag for 10-cents. The fee helps retailers absorb the cost of the more expensive bags and incentivizes us, the consumer, to avoid the fee by bringing reusable bags. Prop 65, however, was added to the ballot to confuse and deceive voters with the promise of environmental friendliness. It redirects the 10-cent fee to a vague environmental fund without a defined objective, and causes the retailers to absorb the cost of stocking more expensive paper and reusable bags.

Let’s give Prop 67 the thumbs up on November 8, and set a precedent for the rest of the U.S. to follow. And, let Prop 65 drop like that empty fist of candy with a firm thumbs down.

For a full voter’s guide see Heal the Bay 

For info on Prop 67 vs. Prop 65 see How to Save the Bag Ban this November, and Surfrider for general info on the ban.