February 23, 2012

Santa Cruz County’s NEW Plastic Bag Ban Takes Effect March 20!

Thank you, Santa Cruz County! When you bring your reusable bags with you, you are single-handedly protecting our ocean and cleaning up your community by stopping plastic pollution.

Are you ready for the end of single-use plastic bags in Santa Cruz County?

The bag ban begins on Tuesday, March 20, and only affects markets and retail stores in unincorporated Santa Cruz County.


  • Bring your reusable bags wherever you go! Leave a few in the car and by your front door.
  • Plastic bags will no longer be available. If you need a paper bag, there will be a 10 cent fee charged at checkout. Shoppers using WIC, food stamps or other public assistance are exempt from the fee.

Hundreds of FREE reusable bags will be distributed in our community on March 20!
  • From 12-2pm at Redwood Shopping Center on 41st Avenue.
  • And from 4-6pm, at Felton Fair Shopping Center, and Rancho del Mar Shopping Center in Aptos.
  • Deluxe Foods in Aptos will give away up to 200 reusable bags to customers, while supplies ask, just be sure to ask.
  • Safeway Markets in Felton and Aptos will give out 100 reusable bags a day for 2 whole weeks starting March 20!

  • Businesses are required to stop giving out plastic bags as of March 20. Restaurants are exempt from this ordinance.
  • Receipts must indicate number of paper bags provided and fees charged, and businesses should keep records of numbers of bags provided.
  • Shoppers using WIC, food stamps or other public assistance are exempt from fees.

Why ban plastic bags?
Plastic bags are a petroleum-based product of convenience, are not biodegradable, rarely recycled (less than 5% are EVER recycled!), harm marine life, and pollute the waterways and communities surrounding Monterey Bay.

Save Our Shores’ data shows over 34,000 plastic bags have been collected at SOS cleanups over the past 5 years. This plastic bag ban will further protect marine life, cleanup our communities, and save taxpayer’s money by decreasing litter removal costs.

Getting Prepared for the Ban:

On Tuesday, March 13, from 4-6pm, SOS will talk to shoppers about the upcoming bag ban at Safeway in Redwood Shopping Center on 41st Avenue, Rancho Del Mar in Aptos, and Felton Fair Shopping Center.

On Tuesday, March 20, SOS will hand out free, custom-made, reusable canvas bags to shoppers from 12-2pm at Safeway in Redwood Shopping Center on 41st Avenue, and from 4-6 pm at Safeway Rancho Del Mar in Aptos, and at Safeway Felton Fair Shopping Center in Felton.

Local Businesses doing it for the Sanctuary:
Threats of a lengthy legal battle from the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition led to the removal of restaurants from the ban. But that didn't stop SOS! We've been hard at work asking restaurants in unincorporated Santa Cruz County to voluntarily stop using plastic bags. See whose with us so far (and tell them Thanks! next time you stop in):
  • Betty Burgers
  • Pleasure Point Eatery
  • Davenport Roadhouse
  • Deli-Licious Cafe
  • The Farm
  • Cafe Sparrow

The Santa Cruz County plastic bag ban makes it illegal for retail outlets to give away disposable plastic bags and imposes a 10 cent fee on paper bags. The goal of the ban is to change behaviors toward reusable bag use.


  1. I am not clear on who this actually effects? Does this also apply to to city of Santa Cruz and it's businesses? I live in Felton and it does apply up here but not in Scotts Valley. I am confused, I thought it was a county wide ban. Does anyone actually know the boundries?

    1. Great question. Politics, even within little ol' Santa Cruz County, can get pretty confusing, even to us!

      The plastic bag ban that begins on March 20 affects retail stores and markets in unincorporated Santa Cruz County only. So Felton, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, Aptos, Soquel, and anywhere else that is not within an incorporated city limit (minus restaurants) will see the plastic bag ban in full effect.

      This great news in the protection of our ocean, communities, and environment from the blight of plastic pollution. And this County ordinance will make it more swift, not to mention logical, for each city within Santa Cruz County to follow in these footsteps.

      Because each city within the County is it's own municipality with its own governing body, you unfortunately won't see the end of plastic bags within the city limits of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Watsonville, or Scotts Valley just yet. Each city now needs to pass their own ban on plastic bags. It's going to be a long road but were not stopping now!

      We literally have no funding for grassroots advocacy, but it's what our Members want, what our organization was founded on, and what will lead to a healthier ocean, one bag at a time.

      Thanks for your interest! Stay tuned and check out http://saveourshores.org/what-we-do/banning-plastic-bags.php for more info.

      Save Our Shores

  2. I'm not sure why they exempted restaurants. Eric's Deli uses all recyclable bowls and bags and they don't seem threatened by bankruptcy. I think the coastal restaurants should try to start a voluntary plastic bag movement, or bring your own bag. I'm sure people who live on the coast would support it.

    SOS volunteer

  3. I went shopping today in Watsonville at Grocery Outlet on Main Street and they are still using plastic bags. Aren't they not suppose to be using them. I also noticed that Target in Watsonville is also still using plastic bags. I think someone should get these businesses in line with the rest of the county of Santa Cruz.

  4. Is there any bag that business can give out and not charge for? Is there a bag that is made for reuse that Save our Shores recomends? Is there a list of vendors that can supply bags that are good for reuse?

  5. It's not fair that I have to pay ten cents per bag yet WIC/Food Stamp recipients do not have to pay.


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