The Champion of Plastic Bags

Stephen L. Joseph is pacing the halls and stairways of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, having just wrangled a brief break and an extra fifteen minutes for his closing statement from an increasingly impatient judge. Now as he wanders distractedly, he rehearses his best lines against a type of environmental ordinance that cities and counties across California and the nation are adopting.

"The thing is, I feel I am the true environmentalist here, because I'm only interested in the truth - solid science, solid facts," says the Tiburon-based attorney, whose native British accent is still detectable after more than three decades of U.S. citizenship.

No, Joseph is not battling over massive solar farms in delicate desert habitats. Nor is his case about erecting wind turbines in the flight paths of migratory birds. Rather, Joseph's mission is to save the plastic shopping bag from extinction....

Read more about the campaign to ban plastic bags - and the man whose job is to bag the bans - in my latest California Lawyer magazine article, as well as in Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash.