Monday, January 7, 2013

Banning plastic bags... foolishness or a necessity?

I have a HUGE pet peeve. Well, actually, I have a lot of them (such as women peeing all over toilet seats... I mean, really!). I encountered one of them face-to-face last week (face-to-butt is a more accurate description). 

My husband and I were walking across the parking lot to go into Denny's when I observed the rather large backside of a woman leaning into the backseat of her car. Apparently, she was cleaning it out. As she scooped up the trash, she promptly dumped it onto the ground in the parking lot beside her car. I stood there, dumbfounded, as I watched her open her front door and do the same thing before getting in, tossing her burning cigarette into the mess and closing the door.

"Don't say anything," my husband insisted. "Just leave it alone."

Everything in me wanted to protest his instruction, but I conceded and went into the restaurant. For the next hour, and apparently longer, since I'm still thinking about it, I stewed. I fretted. I got caught up in the insanity of it. I mean, really! Who does that kind of thing?? It is beyond my comprehension that there are people out there who are like this. I.just.don' Can someone explain it to me? Can someone defend her? No, don't bother. It is impossible. Aside from self-centered laziness, there is no explanation.

How did we get to a point in society where people can so easily disregard the earth and its inhabitants? Over the last few years, things have begun to shift... at least in the politics of it all. There are now laws banning plastic bags in various parts of the country... and the world. LAWS! There is even the threat of imprisonment in East Africa if anyone is caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags. A couple of decades ago, this would be laughable.

As you dig further into this subject, you can understand the need for steep penalties. According to environmental ministry official Mohamed Yahya of Mauritania, over 70% of the cattle and sheep who die in Nouakchott die because they ate plastic bags (BBC Afrique). That's bizarre! The animals, in which I believe we've been given charge to care for, are dying because of people's careless attitude toward the earth. 

An estimated 100,000 marine animals die each year due to plastic pollution. That's a startling statistic. 

However, my issue isn't with the statistics, it's with the laws. I hate having to inflict more laws on society. But it looks like society had it coming. 

So, for those of you in places where it's still legal to receive your goods at the store in a plastic bag, watch out! Unless we change our ways, the laws are going to spread like wildfire. If they do, ask yourself if you might be to blame. If you are still not carrying your own bags into the stores, then you have no right to scoff at the ban that might be coming your way. 

Check back tomorrow for my suggestions on how you can eliminate the need for single use plastic bags.

And weigh in. Banning plastic bags... Yes or No?


  1. I don't love the ban, either. But I'd be ok with a fee or a tax for each one you use.

  2. I recycle mine. They're good for so many things! I keep them in the car to carry toys. I keep extras on hand for when I go to the bulk warehouse store. I use them for trash bags. I keep them on hand for yard sales. I use them as packing material when I mail fragile things, or for when I'm packing up things for storage. I use them for organizing things I'm putting into my freezer. I also use them for temporary insulation. When I collect too many, I take them back to the grocery and drop them in the recycle bin outside the grocery store.

    I prefer paper bags because they have so many more recyclable uses than plastic. I know...the trees. I live in pulp mill country where growing trees specifically for pulp and paper is an important industry. It provides local jobs and supports the local economy. Local farmers use the pulp trees as a green fertilizer when they rotate their fields My beef with paper is that we've used plastic for so long, baggers no longer know how to properly pack a paper bag and end up wasting them.

    I keep a supply of both paper and plastic in my pantry for myriad household uses.

  3. Paper bags mean lost trees. And plastic can be recycled. It's the mindfulness that I think we're missing the most.

    1. Yes, but reusable bags are simply reusable. And that's a wonderful thing. Check back tomorrow for my advice regarding reusable bags.

  4. I agree that more laws are overwhelming. But taxing each bag won't have much effect after the first few months. I think stores can encourage b-y-o bags simply by not supplying them, as Costco has done. I keep a hefty selection of bags in my car...most of the time. I still use and re-use the plastic bags, but fewer and fewer as time goes on. I look forward to the next post!

    1. Thanks, Debbie. You're right about not supplying them. I never minded when I used to go to Sam's Club years ago and had to use their boxes or carry my own plastic bags into the store with me. I expected it and I had no problem with it. This was in the days before I had cloth reusable bags. Now it would be a cinch!


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