The plastic bag nonsense
As if the nanny state wasn't intrusive enough already, busybodies in the California Assembly are sticking their noses in where they don't belong, passing a bill to ban plastic shopping bags. This is a classic case of perennial meddlers looking to boss people around for no good reason.
Plastic shopping bags are far from an environmental menace. In fact, the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags also pales in comparison to the environmental impact of paper and canvas bags.
According to the Environmental Literacy Council, plastic bags are better for air quality than paper bags because they weigh less and are more compact, requiring one-seventh the number of trucks to ship the same number of bags. And fewer truck trips carrying lighter loads mean less oil consumption and less pollution.
The council also reports that plastic bags are more environmentally benign in landfills, since they require only a fraction of landfill space compared with paper bags.
Don't let environmental activists fool you regarding reusable canvas bags, either.
Reusable canvas bags are likely to become downright gross in no time. The next time you buy ice cream, notice how much of it sticks to the outside of the carton, ready to turn a canvas shopping bag into a gooey mess and a feeding station for ants and cockroaches. Notice, too, how much juice leaks from the fruit salad container and how much bacteria-infested gook leaks from meat packages.
Keeping canvas bags sanitary and reusable will require frequent additional cycles for your washer and dryer. These extra laundry cycles, of course, result in more energy use, more air pollutants from electricity generation, and more water pollution from detergents.
And, since most people don't keep an immaculate calendar dictating which days and at what times they will stop by the grocery store, they will have to keep the trunks of their cars stuffed with numerous heavy, bulky canvas bags. As a result, every automobile trip -- wherever the destination -- would mean more automobile weight due to the stash of canvas bags. More automobile weight means more gasoline will get burned and more pollutants be released into the air.
In addition, the popular notion of plastic shopping bags entangling and choking marine life is an urban myth, more befitting of a Mark Twain tall tale than a serious discussion on the environment. According to U.S. Marine Mammal Commission senior analyst Dr. David Laist, "Plastic bags do not figure in entanglement. The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands."
He adds that, "The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem, either."
In reality, the only environmental harm caused by plastic shopping bags is the sight blight that happens when people litter. But why should plastic shopping bags be treated any differently in this regard than soda cans, water bottles, juice boxes and other items? It seems that a far better solution is to impose heavier fines on littering, which would have the additional benefit of reducing all forms of litter.
But why bother with a simple, unobtrusive solution when you can find a new excuse to be a buttinsky?
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here