Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic bags haven’t been banned yet where I live.  However, my favorite grocery store recently eliminated single use bags.  Other stores in my area have imposed the 10 cent per bag fee.

When the bags were free, I’d use them to line my kitchen garbage can and collect waste from the cat boxes.  Now that I don’t get them, I’ve resorted to buying plastic bags for the garbage can.  (Interestingly, the bags I now buy cost $2 for a box of twenty, or 10 cents per bag, the same as the verboten grocery bag.)  As for the cat waste, I’ve found that both newspaper bags and produce bags (which are still free) work well enough for this.

According to Wikipedia, an organization has formed to lobby against bans on plastic bags.

It all seems so senseless to me.  Is there really a good alternative to plastic bags for kitchen waste?  What else would you use to contain used coffee filters, spoiled food, and grease-soaked paper towels?  Would you expect a paper bag to remain intact long enough to be carried out to a receptacle at the curb?

Or perhaps I’ve overestimated human efficiency and resourcefulness.  Maybe I’m part of a very small minority that now has to buy the same number of bags that I used to get for free.  Maybe all along most folks have been buying garbage bags and would just fling the free grocery bags out a window when they got home.

I think a more ingenious solution would’ve been to somehow mark each dispensed bag with a means to identify the person who received it.  Then when it’s eventually removed from where it was snagged in a tree, officials would know whose bag it was and levy a penalty against that person.

Well, in fact, these bags do have identifiers.  But of course they don’t identify the bag recipient; they identify the manufacturer.  If the plastic industry wants to continue manufacturing the bags, and consumers want to continue using them, why bother to fight them?  Just levy penalties against the manufacturers whose bags are found littering the environment.

What do you think?



Molly said...

In California, they banned plastic bags a couple of years ago. Like you, I reused the plastic bags for the garbage. Now I buy bags for the garbage, but they're bigger, so I only use one a week. Amount of plastic??? Probably about the same. I have plastic reusable bags for groceries. They're strong, and last through about twenty trips before they become garbage bags.

I think this is the point behind the ban. Plastic which can't be recycled, but is properly thrown into the trash ends up in a landfill for thousands of years. Not great, but so do they bags that you buy. Plastic that is thrown in the street, ends up in the ocean, in garbage island where plastic collects in the ocean, and ultimately in the stomach of marine animals. This is really bad. In our neck of the woods, people are slobs and throw junk including plastic in the street all the time. It's hard to target the slobs. They might care more about harming a seal than about littering, but they know that littering is wrong, and they do it anyway. Last week, I picked up about eighteen pieces of plastic (not bags) from the front of my house, and I don't live in a slummy neighborhood. It's easier to target the plastic in the beginning.

And of course, if you buy the garbage bags, you're more likely to use them properly than to toss them on the street.

Thanks for the post.

Square Peg Guy said...

Thank you so much, Molly!

You've never met my other dog, Gordie. He was afraid of plastic garbage bags. He'd see one lodged in a bush and bark at it as if it were a serious threat. In a way, he was right.

Shadow also agrees with you. Shadow and Gordie -- so much smarter than me.