Monthly Archives: February 2014

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 Plastic Bag Bans and California’s Drought