Neither paper nor plastic (Travis)

Today, the California Senate voted down a bill that would have banned plastic bags in supermarkets and large retail stores stores by 2012.

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of plastic.


  • 1 million seabirds die each year from plastic in the oceans
  • 100,000 marine mammals (dolphins, for example) die each year from plastic in the oceans. Add to that the unknown number of land animals and reptiles (turtles, for example, which think bags are jellyfish.)
  • They take 1,000 years to degrade on land – and 450 years in water
  • They’re an outright eyesore (go outside – I bet you can find one on the ground in minutes!)


  • They’re cheap
  • They’re convenient

    Opponents say a ban would make life tougher for the consumer, and kill jobs (how many people are really employed making plastic bags?) But the list of countries that have outright bans on plastic bags include Italy, Australia, Somalia, Botswana, Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Japan, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Belgium, and Malta. Note the economic state of some of those countries. Ethiopia, where the per capita income is less than $400. And Somalia – about $600. Uganda – $1,200. Papua New Guinea – $2,300. Samoa – $5,400. Ours, by the way, is $46,000. We can afford to take the hit from plastic bags, if there even is one.

    Let’s at least compromise. Ireland incentivized bringing reusable bags grocery shopping by imposing a 15 cent tax on single-use plastic bags. Plastic bag usage dropped 90%.


    ~ by stormcellar on September 1, 2010.

  • One Response to “Neither paper nor plastic (Travis)”

    1. I think that people in the U.S. are at least becoming more aware of bag usage. My attitude about it has changed drastically in the last year or so…I actually feel really guilty if I don’t bring my own, reusable bags.

      I think adding a tax or charging for any type of bag is a great way to give incentive to people to bring their own bags from home. Or giving rewards to people who bring reusable bags.

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