BYOB = Bring Your Own Bag in San Jose

It's only a dime, but it has made a big impact in San Jose.

By Marianne Favro
|  Thursday, Jan 26, 2012  |  Updated 8:39 AM PDT
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The new plastic bag ban in San Jose is hurting some of the smaller mom and pop shops.  NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro explains.

The new plastic bag ban in San Jose is hurting some of the smaller mom and pop shops. NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro explains.

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BYOB is quickly getting a new meaning in San Jose. Bring Your Own Bag.  On January First San Jose’s new plastic bag ban went into effect.

“I think it’s annoying,“ said Christopher Shigenaga of San Jose who says he has had to walk two blocks with his arms full of groceries because he forgot to bring a recyclable bag and he didn’t want to pay ten cents for a paper one.

“Everybody has to help out, and this is a good way for people to help the environment “ said Gayle Navarro who admits she forgot her recyclable bag on her recent trip to Target and had to buy a new one.

So far 150 people have called or emailed the city of San Jose about the new ban.

Environmental Services Director Kerrie Romanow says only 25 of those calls were complaints. She says many people wonder why they have to pay ten cents for a bag that used to be free.

“But that bag was really never free, there was always the community cost of cleaning up the bag so you paying with other mechanisms” said Romanow.

Frankie’s Awards has done business in San Jose for 41 years. Gloria Fields says the new plastic bag ban prevents the store from using its existing paper bags because they are not made of 40 percent recyclable materials.

The store paid $2,000 for those bags. The store has tried to purchase new earth friendly bags, but so far the owner has not been able to find a distributor who will sell them less than 25,000 and  Frankies only needs 500.

“It’s ridiculous. The thought that went into this law was minimal. I think they excluded small business owners and small volume users," said Gloria Fields who helps Frankie’s with orders.

While the ordinance does call for $1,000 fine for violators, Romanow says right now education is the city’s top priority.

The city plans to reach out to businesses that are struggling to comply with the new law.

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