Last December, the Ventura City Council voted 6 to 1 to go ahead and prepare a Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance and an addendum to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) developed by the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON) EIR for consideration by the City Council in six months.
On 19 May 2014, this Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance and the EIR addendum was on the city council agenda and failed to pass because of the tie vote by the Ventura City Council.
Most communities that have implemented plastic bag bans have generally followed the same prescription. First, plastic carryout bag are banned at checkout, and a minimum fee of 10-cents is charged for each paper bag issued in order to coerce shoppers into bringing their own reusable bags. In addition, most communities but not all, provide an exemption to the paper bag fee for certain low income groups.
Most communities that have passed plastic bag bans have done so without seriously considering the impact upon on community residents. In particular the costs imposed on residents complying with the bag ban. While a few cities have calculated the cost of reusable bags for a typical family, they have largely ignored the value of personal time required for residents to handle reusable bags (such as the effort to put bags into the car, wash bags on a regular basis, dry bags, fold bags, etc.) and the increased cost of water and energy. As a result such estimates are flawed and incomplete.
What is the difference between “real” and “phony” environmentalism? A real environmentalist is one who carefully evaluates the impact of environmental actions and considers all of the facts including primary and secondary impacts. In addition, a real environmentalist is willing to consider alternative environmental actions or even to modify the proposed environmental action in order to eliminate or compensate for unintended and damaging consequences. The phony environmentalist, on the other hand, embraces emotional “feel-good” ideas that sound wonderful but produce unintended and damaging consequences. The phony environmentalist, when confronted with these consequences, is often dogmatic and unwilling to change proposed environmental actions or even to consider alternatives designed to minimize the unintended and damaging consequences, because they are driven by “feel-good” emotions rather than a logical thought process.
The real environmentalist embraces “real science” and the phony embraces “pseudo-science” and “feel-good” ideas that sound good but are not based upon real science. In fact, entire books have been written on the phenomenon of phony environmentalism, such as “Eco-Fads” by Todd Myers and “Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and The Rise of The Anti-Scientific Left” by Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell. Unfortunately, phony environmentalism has a track record that ignores negative environmental impacts, wastes resources, and imposes dubious environmental programs on the public through law. This dubious track record has destroyed the public’s perception of genuine efforts to improve the environment.
Arguments to support plastic carryout bag bans are weak, generalized, emotional, and irrational. These arguments can be better described as nothing more than lies, myths, half-truths, distortions, and embellishments. It doesn’t take a lot of time for a person with an open mind and some skills in sorting fact from fiction to examine the arguments and come to the conclusion that a ban on plastic grocery bags is unsound. But it takes a commitment to objective truth to sort fact from fiction.
Develop a Skeptical Show Me Attitude
So how do you immunize yourself from the misinformation that bag ban proponents attempt to foist on you and keep yourself from being hoodwinked and having the wool pulled over your eyes? You have heard the saying “I’m from Missouri, show me!” This little saying describes the kind of skeptical attitude that you should develop, that you do not take things on faith, that you cannot be easily fooled or conned, you have to see the evidence and the proof. Developing a skeptical “show me” attitude, learning to ask pointed questions, will make you less susceptible to misinformation and false propaganda.
Familiarize Yourself with the Lies, Myths, Half-Truths, and Exaggerations
Start by reading and familiarizing yourself with the contents of the article titled “The Lies, Myths, Half-Truths, and Exaggerations of Bag Ban Proponents” (van Leeuwen & Williams, The Lies, Myths, Half-Truths, and Exaggerations of Ban Ban Proponents, 2013). This article will provide you with a basic understanding of many of the myths and misinformation typically used by most bag banners.