Bring Your Own

Saving the Environment and Your Money

Refillable Coffee Cup - using a reusable coffee mug not only helps the environment by reducing the overproduction of paper or Styrofoam cups but also can save you money because many coffee shops offer discounts if you bring your own mug.

Refillable Water Bottle - Drinking bottled water is a common and expensive habit. If you go through a $7 case of bottled water every week, that’s $364 per year for something you could get out of a tap for less than $1. Invest in a reusable water bottle instead, and it will pay for itself more than 20 times over in its first year of use. At the same time, you’ll keep more than 1,200 disposable plastic bottles out of the waste stream.

Tote Bags for Shopping - bringing a reusable bag for shopping saves you from having to purchase bags at the store and will reduce the over use of one time use bags.

Dishes and Utensils - keep a plate, bowl, and set of silverware at your work so instead of using plastic ware every day you simply wash your work set of dishes, saving the environment from hundreds of wasted plastic utensils.

Napkins - Many people use paper napkins all the time – even at home. A family of four that used one napkin at every meal would utilize and discard 4,300 napkins in a year – roughly $65 worth. That same family could buy a dozen cloth napkins for $10 and reuse them over and over. They’d save $55 just in the first year, produce less trash, and save trees.

Straws - Did you know that disposable plastic straws are one of the top 10 most common items of trash found in the ocean and on our beaches? With over 500 million plastic straws being used every day in the US alone, it’s no wonder that many of them end up in our oceans and waterways. By switching to using reusable straws we can drastically reduce the amount of disposable straws that are made, used and then thrown away. Also, by using reusable straws at home you will save money by not having to repurchase toxic disposable plastic straws.

To-Go Containers - when you’re planning to dine out, avoid both food waste and packaging waste by bringing along a reusable container for your leftovers.

Reusable Bags

Information for Residents

Certain retailers in Long Beach no longer distribute plastic bags. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to help reduce litter on our streets and preserve landfill space.Farmer's markets must also comply with this new ordinance.

The purpose of the ordinance adopted by Long Beach City Council is to:

  • Reduce litter in our neighborhoods
  • Reduce plastic debris in our waterways and stormdrains
  • Reduce waste transported to landfills

Here are simple things residents can do:

1. Use a reusable tote when shopping

  • A high-quality reusable tote can replace 600 plastic carryout bags over its lifetime.
  • Be sure to keep your tote clean. Cleaning tips:
    • Check the manufacturer label on your reusable tote for proper cleaning instructions
    • Many cloth and fabric totes are machine washable – wash them as often as your kitchen towels
    • Many non-woven plastic totes can be hand-washed in soap and hot water – allow to air dry before folding and storing.
    • Reusable plastic totes can be cleaned with disinfectant wipes – allow to dry before folding and storing
  • Consider designating one tote bag for meat products and another for produce. Wash these bags frequently.
  • Keep your totes readily available. Toting tips:
    • Keep tote bags in your car.
    • Keep a tote in your purse or backpack. Some totes fold to a small size for purses & pockets.
    • Make a note to bring a tote on your shopping list
    • Hang your reusable tote on your front door knob before you go shopping
    • Keep your coupons in your reusable tote
    • Ask kids to remind you to bring your totes
    • Give a reusable tote as a gift to remind your friends to choose to reuse
  • For customers participating either in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children or the Supplemental Food Program, stores are required to provide a free reusable bag or paper bag.
  • Download and use our tote-reminder for your next shopping list.

2. Avoid the paper bag alternative

  • Retailers are required to charge a 10¢ fee for every paper bag requested by a customer.

Paper cannot be washed or disinfected. Please recycle paper bags after they've been used.
Paper bags require costly amounts of energy and nonrenewable resources to produce, and have a relatively short life cycle.

Ordinance Summary

City of Long Beach
Ordinance No. ORD-11-0009
Municipal Code Chapter 8.62: Plastic Carryout Bags

Phase I - Effective August 1, 2011: applies to supermarkets and large retail stores with a pharmacy, with gross annual sales of two million dollars, or a store of at least ten thousand (10,000) square feet of retail space.

Phase II - Effective January 1, 2012: applies to smaller grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and food marts.

This prohibition does not apply to produce or product bags.

Key components of Long Beach ban include:

  • Stores cannot provide carryout plastic bags to customers.
  • Stores must provide either recyclable paper or reusable bags.
  • Any store that provides a recyclable paper carryout bag to a customer must charge the customer ten cents ($0.10) for each bag provided.
  • All stores must indicate on the customer receipt the number of recyclable paper carryout bags provided and the total amount charged for the bags.

There are no restrictions to prohibit customers from using any type of bag they bring themselves, or carrying away goods that are not placed in a bag.

All stores must provide free recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to any customer participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or in the Supplemental Food Program.


  • First violation: $100 per day
  • Second violation: $200 per day
  • Third violation: $500 per day

Please view actual ordinance text for definitions, details and clarification of information provided in this summary. ORDINANCE


  • Why has the City of Long Beach banned plastic carryout bags?

    • They are produced from non-renewable resources
    • They are designed to be disposable, rather than reusable
    • They are not likely to be recycled – less than 5% of the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California are recycled
    • They are a significant and visible component of litter
    • They pollute our local waterways
    • They are a hazard to wildlife
  • Why are reusable bags better for the environment?

    • Reusable bags do not pollute the environment and help reduce landfill waste because they are used again and again.
  • When does the carryout bag ban begin?

    • August 1, 2011 – Supermarkets and Large Retail Stores with a Pharmacy
    • January 1, 2012 – Farmers Markets, Convenience Stores, Food Marts and other Pharmacies
  • What kind of plastic bag is banned?

    • A plastic carryout bag made predominantly of plastic that is derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plant sources, which is provided to a customer at the point of sale.
  • Are there any exceptions to this ban?

    • Yes, small “product bags” or “produce bags” used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale inside a store, to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items or to provide protective covering for an alcoholic beverage container.
    • For any customer participating either in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or in the Supplemental Food Program, stores are required to provide at the point of sale, free of charge, either reusable bags or recyclable paper carryout bags or both, at the store’s option.
  • Why is there a 10-cent charge for recyclable paper carryout bags?

    • The 10-cent charge encourages the use of reusable bags.
  • What is the 10-cent charge used for?

    All monies collected by a store under the Long Beach Ordinance will be retained by the store and may be used for:

    • Costs associated with Ordinance compliance
    • Actual costs of providing recyclable paper carryout bags
    • Costs associated with a store’s educational materials or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable carryout bags, if any
  • Will stores still sell plastic garbage bags?

    • Yes. The Long Beach Ordinance does not affect the sale and purchase of plastic garbage bags.
  • Can I recycle paper carryout bags?

    • Yes, place them in your purple recycling cart.