In 2010, California tried to ban the plastic bag. I thought to myself, “Seriously? With all the problems we have?” Now individual cities like Dana Point and Laguna Beach are picking up the torch.
I mean, I remember as a child the “Save A Tree: Use Plastic” when we all used paper bags. We loved them. They were used for trash, we wrapped presents in them; heck! Mom even cooked her Thanksgiving Turkey in one. If that’s not “reuse, reduce, recycle” what is?
Here are some of my concerns:
- Who will pay for the paper bags? In all liklihood, the consumer, either directly or indirectly, will bear the added cost.
- There is no great way to ensure reusable bags (the preferred alternative to plastic “single-use” bags) are properly washed, thus preventing food-to-home-back-to-store contamination. I double-dog dare you to read the study linked below; these bags are breeding grounds for bacteria, yeast, salmonella, coliforms including E. Coli, and mold. When I wrote my post in 2010, I thew away all of my “reusable” bags.
- Cotton bags would be a better alternative because you could wash them in bleach after each use and fully dry them in a dryer. But what is the environmental and financial cost of doing that?
- I reuse my plastic bags to bring lunch to work, carry my clean plastic containers back home, and for bathroom and car trash liners. Paper bags would not suffice. I’d end up purchasing plastic bags.
I’m thankful that my Assemblywoman, Diane Harkey R-73, has both voted against the statewide legislation and has been a vocal advocate against plastic bag bans.
I’m not in favor of killing ocean life or ruining our beautiful environment. But I think in this instance, when even 1/6 cell phones are contaminated with fecal mater, I wouldn’t trust people to fully sanitize their bags before reusing them at the store. Human health may be the cost of the war on plastic bags.
It’s true that some people litter and these plastic bags may end up where they shouldn’t.
But don’t punish everyone because of the few.
Recommended Reading and Links:
- “Grocery Carry Bag Sanitation: A Micobiological Study of Reusable Bags and ‘First or Single-use’ Plastic Bags” by Dr. Richard Summerbell, Ph. D., Sporometrics, Toronto Canada (pdf)
- Bag the Ban | Practice Safe Sacks — Cleaning Reusable Bags (Video)
- FastCompany | Fungi Discovered In The Amazon Will Eat Your Plastic
- Bag the Ban | Fact Sheet LA Reality Check
- Mail Online | Why you need to use your ‘environmentally friendly’ cotton carrier bag 131 times to be green
- Are Reusable Bags Really a Food Safety Concern, Barf Blog
- Bag the Ban
- Orange County Register | Diane Harkey: Don’t ban plastic bags in Dana Point (12/9/2011)
- New York Times | In California, a Step Toward B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag)
- Loosen the Grip of Bag Anxiety
Adapted from my Commonsense Conscience June 4, 2010 post: “Paper or Plastic?”