Monday, March 16, 2009

eco: charge big money for damn plastic bags

I walked the dogs around Candlestick Point. The little sandy beach on the bay was layered in plastic bags. There was literally one every square yard. Pulling it out often revealed another one underneath. Depressing and completely unnecessary.

OK, maybe you don't live by water. Someone comments:
I'm more concerned about the plastic bags that don't make it to the landfills. Take a road trip along I-5 in California or out along I-40 or I-10 to Arizona and you'll see downwind of every truck stop joshua trees and other awesome desert plants choked by these things, mostly cut off from the sun by thousands of Taco Bell bags that have blown away from the parking lots out into the desert. Depresses the hell out of me.
Meanwhile lawyer Stephen Joseph runs savetheplasticbag.com, with the usual confusion as to how plastic bags aren't so bad. Don't bother reading the site, there's no admission of how awful these things are, and it's full of the usual bait and switch crap, e.g. "If we really want to save [marine mammals and turtles], then we would need to ban fishing."

On issues like this people create all kinds of false choices and dichotomies:
"If you ban plastic, how will people store trash/pick up dog poop?"
People can scrounge bags or buy them, no one is proposing a ban on selling bags. If you put something in a bag for good, it's not going to drift away.
"Plastic bags are no worse than paper bags"
Maybe (paper bags are easier to reuse and easier to recycle), but the point is reducing the waste stream
The choice at the supermarket is not "paper or plastic?". The choice should be "Do you want to buy a paper bag for 25 cents that includes a cleanup & recycling fee, buy a plastic bag for 20 cents that includes a cleanup fee, or get a clue and bring your own reusable bags?" People will wise up fast.



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