Will, it looks like San Francisco finally got something right. I say that because I’m not a big fan of all their attempts at legalizing gay marriage and the general liberal sentiments there, but there are things that I can agree on that come out of that city. One of those was announced yesterday, namely their legislation that just passed banning the use of plastic grocery bags.
Popular news is already covering this legislation because this is the first US city to implement such a ban. I have to hand it to San Francisco, the city and part of the state that likes to regulate everything; they tend to be on the leading edge of suggesting things to control. I don’t think that necessarily has to be a law, but at times this is the only way we can implement changes in society.
Remember the old days of the big debate between paper and plastic? Typically you still have the option these days but more often than not you get plastic unless you specifically request paper. In the end, both options have their pros and cons, but from what I’ve seen that almost everyone gets plastic these days. Plastic bags are small, lightweight, and easy to dispose of; and all of their attributes are the reason that they are a problem as well. We are a throwaway society, no doubt about it. We like our convenience and we are slow to adopt programs that involve recycling or anything that requires a little extra effort.
I come from a biology/environmental science background in college which contributes to my “green” attitude towards a lot of things, but admittedly I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to being lazy on something. That said, whenever I have lived in an area that has offered to recycle, even had an extra cost, have taken advantage of it. It still amazes me that where I live now there are no recycling programs whatsoever. Even if we can’t recycle, though, we can do all we can to limit our waste and overuse of natural resources.
Plastic bags are one of those little conveniences that we all take advantage of simply because it’s there, and we don’t even think about alternatives. This is one area that my wife has excelled, having grown up in a family that thinks Green and living in an area in Northern California that focused on it. One little thing that she does (usually) is to take with her reusable cloth bags when she goes grocery shopping. The funny thing is her mother did this all the time and it was a regular thing in the store she shopped at. In fact, some of the stores offer them as their only option. Where we live my wife gets strange looks often from other customers seeing her groceries bagged into these cloth alternatives. The store she regularly shops at now has employees that recognize her and periodically she receives a positive comment or two.
Admittedly there are times when we request that you plastic bags though because it’s a convenient (cheap) way to get plastic bags that we use when we really need something disposable. Even then, I think we often use a plastic bag when it is unnecessary simply because again it is an easy and convenient option. This is one convenience though that I’m willing to give up, and largely my family already has.
Take a moment to look at the statistics of how much oil is used each year simply to provide plastic bags for grocery stores in San Francisco alone. Along with the use of oil, there are the tons of debris generated as these are thrown away from their one-time use. So today I propose everyone reading this site do your small part even before it is regulated to contribute to this change. Start using cloth bags that you can reuse each time you go to the store. Do your part to reduce, reuse recycle. Unnecessary plastics bags at the store simply gotta go.