You see them everywhere they are not supposed to be. Plastic bags have become an irritating part of the landscape, lining the highways, caught in tree branches, floating in the ocean. The buggers jam recycling machinery, block drainage systems, languish in landfills, and are mistaken for food by wildlife. Fashioned from petrochemicals, these bags are highly resistant to degradation. While some can be collected and recycled, and all can be re-purposed as garbage and storage bags, these seemingly convenient plastic sacks generally wind up as fodder for the dump or become one of the main ingredients for marine pollution.
While the plastic bag has its friends in high places, such as the American Chemistry Council, ExxonMobil, and Dow Chemical, cities across the country are beginning to let the flimsy film know that it is not welcome. A quarter of the world’s countries have either restricted, taxed, or outlawed single-use plastic bags, and the United States is slowly starting to follow suit. San Francisco began the trend in 2007, and was copied on the local level by other cities including Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
San Luis Obispo is considering a bag ban with an additional tax for plastics, but has experienced opposition from well-funded lobbying groups and those that believe a bag restriction comes as an infringement to freedom of choice and as a burden to business owners.
One of the simplest and most effective methods of reducing your plastic footprint is to bring your own cloth or sturdy reusable bag with you to the local supermarket, restaurant, or retail store. Here at Bambu Batu we carry cloth totes and Blue Lotus reusable produce bags for conscious shoppers. All of your purchases from the store are bagged in recycled paper, and we are always enthusiastic to see customers bring their own backpacks, purses and satchels.
What do you think? Should San Luis Obispo ban the bag? Tax plastic? Recycle reusables? Are cities overstepping Constitutional boundaries when imposing levies on these products? Are environmental risks enough to consider outlawing single use bags altogether?