Friday, April 24, 2009
A ban I can support
I was struck today on the drive home that enough has not been said about the horrors of plastic bags... at least not from my own soapbox. Why aren't the rest of the cities of the world taking a queue from San Francisco and supporting a ban on plastic shopping bags? My opposition includes all the normal issues about how they are not biodegradable and most of them end up in the oceans where they either literally choke living things or break down into smaller pieces that totally mess with the DNA of those unlucky enough to ingest them. However, I have a much bigger beef than even that - the laziness of the average American. At this point in our history you would think we had learned SOME lessons from our recent history about re-using. During the early 19th century they had "rag and paper men" who's job it was to go to individual houses and collect rags from sewing and paper and take them away to be reused. Why, then, a century later, are we having to reinvent this and find ways to make recycling hip again? Every other developed nation in the world (well, OK, at least in Europe where I have personal experience) expects their citizens to bring their own bags when they do their shopping. So why is it a novelty that I get bitchy looks about from folks unlucky enough to be behind me at the grocery store checkout when my bagger is struggling to load my reusable bags with my purchases? I'm sorry my efforts at saving the planet interfere with your rush to be wherever you are heading. Several years ago when Ikea first appeared in my city, I thought it novel I was charged for the plastic bags I used to carry my purchases away and it was the first time it got me really thinking about the issue. Today, I get a credit for every bag I return to the store to reuse which is a nice incentive to get people to purchase the reusable bags but I think we should go farther. It should be a requirement that you go to the store with your own bags and if you don't you should be charged for the plastic ones you take away. Maybe if it hurt people in the only place most of us care about - the pocketbook - more people would be interested in making a difference that takes such little effort. Call me a hippie or a tree-hugger, call me a liberal fascist, just do it while you are reusing your own bags, please! I would rather see them banned altogether!