Sunday, April 20, 2008

bag lady

Bags seem to be on everyone's brain. My local food co-op will begin charging 10 cents for bags this month. Paper or plastic. How progressive! Yes, except we are a bit behind.

While Taiwan had already banned plastic bags in '01, 2002 should be crowned the year of the bag bans. Bangladesh took the lead, banning all plastic bags, and Ireland followed with a "plastax" of 15 cents for every plastic bag handed out. In '03 South Africa banned plastic bags, and the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh passed a law that could fine or imprison anyone caught using a plastic bag for up to seven years (um, a bit drastic?). By '07 the UK had caught on, with an abundance of bag banning spreading across the country. The use of plastic bags plummeted.

Where is the US, we ask? Following. Slowly. San Francisco was the first city to ban the plastic bag for major retailers in '07 and Seattle mayor Greg Nickels is pushing for a required charge of 20 cents for every disposable bag (paper or plastic) starting Jan. 1 2009. Non-recyclable plastic food containers and utensils would be banned in Seattle by 2010.

Now the plastic people are getting worried, right? Because how can they make millions off of their flimsy petroleum product if we as a world community decide we don't need them. So, they point to paper bags manufacturing process, arguing that paper is less environmentally friendly than plastic. Read a press release from the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council (seriously, who would put that organization on their resume?) concerning the debate of an Oakland, CA plastic bag ban here.

We're back to the usual paper vs. plastic debate. I'll have to agree with my co-op and choose neither. I do bring my own canvas bags with me shopping, but am guilty of using copious quantities of those thin clear plastic bags for my bulk items and produce, and this new bag charge has me searching for a way to impose a personal bag ban. I found a few answers in Project Felt's shopping green article on etsy about ways to green one's shopping experience (I love kootsac's amazing bulk bags), and provides a range of reusable container options. Instead of paper vs. plastic, now I'm debating organic cotton vs. hemp...

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