Shoppers Reject Using Reusable Bags

Maker Faire 2008 San Mateo 16
City of San Mateo Bags Booth, Maker Faire 2008
Bag usage surveys conducted to date overwhelmingly show that shoppers have rejected using reusable bags and preferred to use paper bags or NO bags at all by a ratio of about two-to-one. While the stated intent of most plastic bag ban ordinances is to shift the majority of shoppers into using reusable bags, and reinforced by imposing minimum fees on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers into using reusable bags, the exact opposite has happened instead. This is not surprising since using reusable bags is not without its own set of problems.

To read more click on the following link: Shoppers Reject Reusable Bags

Issaquah Voters Reject Bag Ban Challenge

VoteYesProp1Voters in Issaquah, Washington narrowly rejected Proposition 1, a ballot measure that if passed would have repealed the plastic bag ban and bag charge. The measure lost by a narrow margin of only 350 votes.

The King County Department of Elections reported that out of 19,302 registered voters in the City of Issaquah, a total of 7,590 ballots (or 39.32%) were returned by mail and counted. A total of 3,595 “Yes” votes (47.68%) and 3,945 ‘No” votes (52.32%) were cast. The “No” vote keeps the bag ban ordinance previously passed by the City Council in place.

Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot by a grass roots group called Save Our Choice.  Save our Choice was founded in December 2011 to first oppose the Seattle bag ban and bag tax and is a band of grassroots volunteers dedicated to fiercely defending consumer and merchant choice. Save Our Choice collected more than 15% of all Issaquah voters to qualify the measure for the ballot in October 2013. (Clark, 2014) Subsequently, Mr. Craig Keller, cofounder of Save Our Choice, successfully challenged the ballot title and description in court and won several much needed wording improvements to the ballot title and description.

According to Mr. Craig Keller, co-founder of Save Our Choice, Proposition 1 would have easily won had more grass roots volunteers turned up to help with the effort. Mr. Keller stated that few volunteers came out to help during freezing cold and windy weather prior to the election to stand outside stores handing out “message” bags and “Free Issy” decals before the election. Each “message” bag was a plastic bag with a message to vote “Yes” on Proposition 1 as shown in the illustration.

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Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

Plastic Ocean
Plastic Debris in Ocean (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

Litter from fast food waste makes up 29.4% of roadside litter.  Should we ban fast food takeout?  Now, before you answer, plastic grocery bags make up less than 0.6% of all roadside litter and cities all over California are banning plastic grocery bags!  The good news is that fast food takeout is not being banned, but it begs the question “Why are plastic grocery bags singled out when their contribution to litter is miniscule?”

In fact, officials who vote for plastic bag bans cannot even point to a plastic bag litter problem in their own community!  Let alone a problem of sufficient magnitude that would justify a ban.  Litter surveys are rarely ever conducted and when they are, they are conducted in a haphazard manner leading to questionable results.  Decisions to implement bag bans are usually based on anecdotal evidence, questionable at best, offered by environmental groups such as showing pictures of a few plastic bags littered around town, in the river bed, and pictures of a turtle chewing on a plastic bag.

Everything that man uses is littered.  Ever see a discarded candy wrapper, a paper bag, a milk carton, a mattress, a sofa, or a tire on the side of the road?  Life would be tough if we ban everything that is littered, including plastic grocery bags.  Despite the lack of evidence that plastic bag litter is a significant problem, let’s assume it is and look at more cost effective and appropriate methods of dealing with that litter, methods that would be beneficial to the community.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Plastic Bag Bans – A Community Could Do So Much Better & For So Much Less

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Plastic Bag Ban – Paper Bag Fees Unequally Levied

New Horseshoe Checkstands
New Horseshoe Checkstands (Photo credit: SaCaSeA)

Currently, retail stores distribute plastic and paper bags to customers at checkout to carry their purchases home at no additional charge.  The cost of these bags is included in retail prices paid for and shared by all customers.

Customers who choose to use no bags or reusable bags still pay a small portion toward paper and plastic bags, even when they choose not to receive such bags.  However, some stores do credit customers for every reusable bag used.

 A bag ban imposes a minimum fee of 10-cents for each paper bag distributed in order to discourage paper bag use and also creates an exemption to that fee for those who participate in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as the Food Stamp program.

In other words, the ordinance creates two classes of shoppers regarding paper bag fees, non-exempt and exempt: Non-exempt shoppers, pay a fee for each paper bag received; Exempt shoppers, receive paper bags free of charge. Continue reading

Bag Bans and Obamacare – Cut From the Same Cloth

Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court
Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court (Photo credit: southerntabitha)

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare” was passed and signed into law on March 23, 2010. (Wikipedia)  You might ask the question “What does Obamacare have to do with a plastic bag ban?”  A lot more than you think!  The similarity of characteristics between Obamacare and plastic bag bans is striking in many areas.

A Plastic Bag Ban, like Obamacare, is a product of progressives who implement big government, top down, totalitarian solutions in response to real or imagined problems.  To see what Obamacare and Plastic Bag Bans have in common, read on!

What Bag Bans and Obamacare Have in common

Obamacare was passed on a single party line vote and signed into law despite the overwhelming opposition by the public. (Williams, 2014)  Likewise, plastic bag bans are passed into law by progressive city councils or county board of supervisors even though more than 50% of the public is opposed.  In other words, like Obamacare, plastic bag bans are forced down the throats of the public whether you like it or not.

Obamacare prevents health insurance companies from selling insurance policies that do not meet federal coverage standards.  Likewise, state and local bag ban ordinances prevent retail stores from distributing plastic carryout bags that do not meet reusable bag standards and are at least 225 mils thick.

There is much, much more.  Click on the following link to read the entire article: Bag Bans and Obamacare – Cut From the Same Cloth

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Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe
Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 1 October, 2013 the Lake Tahoe City Council voted 3-2 to ban “single-use” plastic bags distributed at the check stand for customers to carry purchases home.  Councilmembers Hal Cole, Angela Swanson, and Brooke Laine voted for the ban and Mayor Tom Davis and councilmember JoAnn Conner voted against the ban.  What makes this plastic carryout bag ban ordinance different from others is that is does not mandate a fee for paper bags; does not require retail stores to keep records and report to the city on the number of paper bags distributed and fees collected; and does not implement an enforcement mechanism by the city.  The council decided that it is up to the retailer to decide if he wants to charge a fee for paper bags or recover the cost of paper bags through higher retail prices.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Lake Tahoe Passes Bag Ban With A Twist

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Plastic Bags In Landfill – Not A Problem

Modern landfill operation at Waimanalo Gulch, ...
Modern landfill operation at Waimanalo Gulch, the municipal sanitary landfill for the City & County of Honolulu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You hear it over and over again, “plastic bags do not decompose and will last a thousand years in a landfill” and “they will be here long after I am gone!”  A Google web search will show hundreds of articles with the same theme and in all cases the writers attempt to convey how bad this is and why we should ban plastic carryout bags.  Look at what some say:

  • Plastic bags are not biodegradable … and end up in landfills where they may take 1,000 years or more to break down into ever smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water. (West)
  • A plastic carrier bag will take up to 1000 years to break down once it is in the landfill.  Compare that to its useful life which can be measured in minutes – the length of time it takes to get our shopping home from the store before being dumped in the dustbin. (Green)
  • Plastic bags also have a hard time decomposing; estimates range from ten to twenty years when exposed to air to 500–1,000 years in a landfill. (Cadman)

But what do these writers NOT tell you?  They don’t tell you that the raw materials, oil and natural gas, from whose byproducts plastic carryout bags are made, were in the ground for thousands if not millions of years.  So all that we are doing is putting back into the ground what we extracted from it in the first place, but we put it back in a different and more stable form.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: Plastic Bags In Landfill – Not a Problem

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Bag Bans: Trading One Problem For Another

 

Australian Green Bag
Australian Green Bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials in many communities across California and the Nation have implemented bans on the distribution of plastic carryout bags at selected retailers including a fee on paper bags.  The fee on paper bags is imposed for no other reason than to coerce shoppers to switch to using reusable bags.  The reason most often given by these officials is the litter and aesthetic problem posed by plastic carryout bags and the harm caused to marine and terrestrial environments including wildlife.

These officials, have unfortunately, succumbed to political correctness and the self-interest of being seen as “green” and supportive of the environment.  However, instead of due diligence to carefully evaluate alternative solutions, officials adopt the same populist prescription implemented by other communities.

Although Bag Ban Proponents are passionate about their zeal to protect the environment, their ideas are generally disconnected from reality and their solutions don’t work and are unrealistic.  Nowhere is this more aptly illustrated than in the communities of San Jose and Santa Monica where bag usage surveys reveal that shoppers opt for paper bags or no bags over reusable bags by a ratio of two-to-one.  In other words, the majority of shoppers reject using reusable bags.

Because officials do not carefully evaluate the litter impact of plastic carryout bags compared to the impact that a plastic bag ban will have on their citizens, officials have unwittingly traded one problem for another.  In other words, the bag ban doesn’t really solve a problem, it only shifts the problem from one area to another.  What is worse, a plastic bag litter problem which has no impact in your personal life, now after a bag ban presents a series of challenges, in your face, each and every time you go shopping.

To read the entire article click on the following link:  Bag Bans – Trading One Problem For Another

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Using Reusable Bags: It’s Not That Easy

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...

One of the most often heard claims by those who advocate imposing bag bans on everyone else, is that using reusable bags is not very hard to do.  Here are a few of their typical statements:

  • “I’ve happily been using reusable bags for years, so others should too.”
  • “What’s the big deal about remembering to bring your bag?”
  • “Some people will resist it at first, but eventually they will change and get used to it.”
  • “Sometimes it is hard to change habits, but people will change.  They just need encouragement.”
  • “Look!  I carry a few compacted reusable bags right on my purse strap!”
  • “It is easy! It isn’t so hard!”

These statements are often delivered in an exasperated or condescending tone, implying that people are making a big deal out of nothing.  The real basis for their argument is this: They do it, so others should not complain when they are forced to do it as well.

Setting aside the argument about whether or not it is right to force others to adopt an assumed green lifestyle, we wanted to examine why using reusable bags is challenging and why compliance with using reusable bags is so low, even in communities that have already implemented bag bans.  

Statistics

Surveys at grocery stores before and after bag bans show that most people are choosing not to use reusable bags.  In San Jose, the number of customers leaving grocery stores with no bag went up from 12.9% to 43.5% and the number of customers using paper bags went up from 10.3% to 18.8% after the bag ban. (Romanov, 2012)  Similarly, in Santa Monica customers with no bag went up from 15% to 36% and paper bags went up from 5% to 29%. (Team Marine, 2013)  The statistics for non-grocery stores are even worse, with an abysmal 8% of shoppers using reusable bags almost 2 years after the bag ban. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013, p. 12)

Using reusable bags must not be that easy, since the vast majority of shoppers avoid using these bags and choose to use either paper bags or no bags at all over reusable bags by a ratio of about two to one. (van Leeuwen & Williams, 2013)

To read the rest of the article, click on the following link: Using Reusable Bags Not That Easy

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Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought

California Condor on the 2005 California State...
California Condor on the 2005 California State quarter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 17 January 2014, Governor Brown declared a Drought State Of Emergency for California which included a call on Californians to reduce water usage by 20%!  In signing the declaration, Governor Brown stated “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas. … and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” (Brown, 2014)

Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, stated “This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times” and that we need to conserve the water we have for future use.  Similarly, State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin stated that there simply is not enough water to meet the needs of farmers, communities, and “the conservation efforts intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California”. (Associated Press, 2014) Continue reading