The Curse Of The Plastic bag

This week The Stu Pitt Award goes to ...

The Los Angeles City Council

for being stupid about plastic bags

Los Angeles wants to ban single-use plastic bags and force supermarkets and other large retailers to charge consumers 10 cents per paper shopping bag. Why? To cut down on environmental problems and landfill waste caused by dumping plastic bags like the ones we get in supermarkets to carry our purchases in. A good gesture? Sound environmental policy? Let’s see. Let’s take a look at the reality of government banning plastic bags, and forcing retailers to charge a fee for paper bags.

The plastic bags people get when they shop for food and other items serve two purposes. First, they are useful for carrying the food or other items to their car and then into their residence. Secondly, the plastic bags are useful as garbage bags.

Why don’t people simply use the environmentally friendly reusable cloth bags for shopping? Some people do. They have to take the cloth bag(s) to the supermarket every time they shop for food. Oh great, another thing to remember. Yes, shoppers could keep the cloth bags in the trunk but the cloth bags could get dirty and possibly be contaminated by the other stuff in the trunk. Plus, I have seen a number of health reports stating that sometimes these reusable cloth bags can contain harmful bacteria, from having various foods packed in them. Health officials recommend that consumers wash the cloth bags EVERY time they use them, to avoid contamination. Yeah, right, just what people need, another chore. Why not simply use the environmentally friendly paper bag? Because paper bags make lousy garbage bags: liquid seeps through.

So that's why people use single-use plastic bags for carrying and for garbage.

Now, let’s take a look at what happens if the supermarkets and other large retailers in L.A. ban single-use plastic bags and charge 10 cents per paper bag. If the supermarket charges 10 cents per paper bag, people still need to have garbage bags. So, they would probably buy a 30-pack of 4 gallon Glad plastic garbage bags, costing about 12 cents per bag (that's assuming that ALL plastic bags are not banned). And they would still need to try and remember to take a bag(s) to the supermarket when they go, to carry their purchases out of the store. Let’s continue. If consumers bring a cloth bag to the supermarket, and don't wash them every time they use them, they might end up with an infectious disease. If they get 10 cent paper bags they may just end up throwing them away and not using them as garbage bags, because they leak. So, in the end consumers will probably buy plastic Glad or Hefty bags, for garbage usage, and will still use the same number of plastic bags. Instead of getting plastic bags for free it would now cost consumers about 12 cents per bag. Same number of plastic bags. More cost for the consumer.

In the end, will the ban drastically cut down on the billions of plastic bags supposedly clogging the sewers, clogging the rivers, clogging the ocean, or ending up in the landfills of L.A.? No.

Banning single-use plastic bags. A good idea ... that doesn't work. The only thing this plastic bag ban by the government would do is make it more inconvenient and more expensive to shop for food and other items, for the 3.8 million consumers who live, and shop, in L.A.

The plastic bag ban. Coming soon to a city near you. Is banning plastic bags a good idea? Or a stupid idea that accomplishes nothing except inconvenience and higher prices?

You decide.

I already did.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles City Council. This week, for your stupid plastic bag ban, and for making the banning of plastic bags more important than creating jobs and helping poor people, you deservedly earned the Stu Pitt award.

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect
his country from its government."

- Thomas Paine, American patriot (1737 - 1809)