Californians have voted to enact a state law to ban plastic shopping bags, becoming the first state in the nation to do so.

The California Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum, also known as Proposition 67, was on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as a veto referendum. It was approved by 52 per cent of voters. It was an extremely close call after the law had been challenged by the out-of-state plastic bag industry, which spent more than $6 million to defeat it.

“California voters have taken a stand against a deceptive, multi-million dollar campaign by out-of-state plastic bag makers,” said Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, co-chair of the campaign. “This is a significant environmental victory that will mean an immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that are polluted in California every day, threatening wildlife.”

The law will take effect immediately. It was originally designed to take effect on July 1, 2015 for grocery stores and July 1, 2016 for other retailers. In 2007, San Francisco banned plastic shopping bags, setting off a movement, now more than 151 California communities already have local plastic bans in place. The passage of Prop 67 extends the ban to the remainder of the state.

More than 40 percent of California communities are already living without plastic shopping bags through local ordinance.

More than 70 percent of the Yes on 67 campaign’s funding came from environmental contributors. More than 4,000 individual contributors donated to the campaign. The plastic bag industry had just four contributors.

One more brownie point for California as a green travel destination! At Ecophiles, we are constantly urging our readers to wage a war against plastic pollution for the damage it causes to the environment and to our oceans. To learn how you can help make a difference, read our story on How to Protect the Ocean even if you’re not a Diver.