The previously published article titled “Bacterial and Viral Health Hazards of Reusable Shopping Bags” has been updated to include the potential role that a reusable shopping has the potential to transmit the Ebola and other viruses to infect others.
The article discusses that if reusable shopping bags are not washed on a regular basis, there will be a buildup of bacteria, yeast, mold, and coliforms which if they come in contact with food items could be a potential health hazard. The article also discusses an incident investigated by Public Health officials that demonstrated that a reusable bag can act as a carrier to transmit the Norovirus and make other people sick. We conclude from this incident, that if a reusable bag can transmit the Norovirus, that it can also transmit other viruses, such as the influenza virus and Ebola virus, as well. Prevention is very simple, take the time to wash and sanitize your bag. Continue reading Reusable Bags and Health Hazards→
The California Legislature has once again failed the people of California, this time by passing a draconian plastic bag ban i.e. SB-270). This legislation would ban the distribution of thin-film plastic carryout bags by grocery and convenience stores and impose a minimum fee of 10-cents per store provided paper or reusable bag. The intent of the fee is to change shopper behavior by using a punitive financial incentive to coerce shoppers into bringing and using their own reusable bags. The legislature could have passed a much simpler solution that would have received a much greater and widespread public support and would not have involved changing shopper behavior or imposing bag fees while at the same time solving the plastic bag litter problem. Continue reading California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban→
On Friday, 29 August, 2014 the California State Legislature passed a statewide plastic bag ban in passing SB-270. SB-270 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Governor Brown has until 30 September 2014 to act on the measure. Governor Brown has not indicated support for or opposition to the measure.
If the measure becomes law, shoppers will have to bring their own carryout bags, purchase and use reusable bags, or purchase a paper or thick plastic “reusable” bag for 10-cents each. The law becomes effective on 1 July 2015 for most grocery stores and 1 July 2016 for convenience stores.
Reason Foundation, a public policy research organization recently released several studies that raise serious questions about plastic bag ban and the associated environmental and economic impacts. The articles and associated documents can be downloaded by clicking on the article links.
In a study titled “An Evaluation of the Effects of California’s Proposed Plastic Bag Ban” researchers Julian Morris and Lance Christensen look at bag bans implemented by local jurisdictions and the recently introduced bill by State Senator Alex Padilla (SB 270) that would impose a statewide ban. They state the premise of these laws is to benefit the environment and reduce municipal costs; but, that in practice the opposite occurs. They state that available evidence suggests that these laws will do nothing to protect the environment, will waste resources, and cost Californian’s billions of dollars.
In a study titled “How Green Is that Grocery Bag Ban?” researchers Julian Morris and Brian Seasholes assess the environmental and economic effects of grocery bag bans and taxes. The researchers noted that the bag bans have a miniscule impact on litter, does not reduce litter collection costs, does not reduce environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, more than likely has an adverse health effect from people not washing reusable bags, and that using reusable bags are inconvenient and costly, and that the cost of bag bans disproportionately fall on the poor.
The movement to banbottled water sales in favor of using reusable water bottles filled from the tap is still in its infancy compared to the movement to ban plastic carryout bags and to use reusable shopping bags instead. While only one city has banned the sale of bottled water within city limits, many cities have banned the sale of bottled water on city property including city owned buildings and parks. Some National Parks and some but not all Colleges and Universities have also banned the sale of bottled water in single-use single-serving plastic bottles.
In this article, we will examine why banning the sale of bottled water in single-serving single-use plastic bottles is not a smart decision. Despite the glowing rhetoric of using refillable water bottles filled with tap water, this solution is not all that it is cracked up to be. While a ban on bottled water sales is similar to a ban on plastic carryout bags, the major difference is that water is consumed by mouth, where taste, not to mention the perception of health risks, becomes the discriminating factor in whether refillable water bottles with tap water are accepted by the public. But even if accepted by the public, the question of whether banning the sales of bottled water in single-serving single-use containers is the right solution, remains.
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.
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.
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.
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.