Back in the early 1990s I used “biodegradable trash-bags” as my science fair project. They haven’t caught on because IT DOESN’T MATTER in the slightest. I might generate a few pounds of plastic bag trash every year while the farmers use hundreds of millions of pounds of “plastic mulch” in the same time. My contribution isn’t even two tears in a bucket.
But don’t worry, New Jersey will save the world by just doing whatever New York does. Our governor is like the little dog dancing around the big bull dog in the old cartoons. “Hey Spike! What are we gunna ban next Spike? Come on Spike, let’s ban something! Heya Spike! Wanna get high, Spike?” It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been collecting data. It turns out the ban on Plastic Bag only extends to the people and stores where it is most likely to annoy us instead of actually achieving anything useful. Are you feeling like you’ve made a sacrifice? That’s will assuage your guilt from living an otherwise wasteful lifestyle! Don’t feel bad. You’re American. You really have no choice.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been collecting data. I’m not going to spew a bunch of internet-researched fake news numbers supporting anything in particular. I’ll just point out a few things and you can do the math.
- Since the ban started to get real this past Spring the family has been given about 2 dozen tote-style bags to replace the single-use-plastic-bags. The majority of them are made of plastic.
- 8 out of 11 stores we have shopped in (that are not labeled “grocery stores”) have given me plastic bags in which to ferry my stuff home.
- Some cats share our living space. They make the poops so our “grocery bags” were never single use. We’ve now had to buy bags in which to put the poops. The new bags are made of corn and will decompose if the humidity gets above 80% but the manufacture and distribution isn’t carbon neutral like the bags already in our home were.
- Here’s the best part: I estimate that the groceries coming into our house would have used 28 bags. We’ve used none since the ban! Yay! I can upgrade my car engine to have a fourth cylinder without guilt now! Oh, but wait. The groceries themselves contained 97 single use plastic bags. Plastic bags in the cereal box. Plastic bags to hold the fresh veggies. The sugar. The apples. The tissues. The meat. The bread. Hot Pockets individually wrapped? Like anyone eats just one at a time! Oh, and this number could be a LOT higher if I counted the little things. Each. Kashi. Bar. Is. Individually. Wrapped. With. A. Small. Plastic. Bag.
So, for all the hubbub, the “ban” hasn’t done much good. Sure did annoy some people though so that brings the magic of Awareness into the equation which is then touted as winning. Of course, we’ve always been aware we just don’t care. No, that’s too strong. We just don’t have time to care what with dodging the potholes while driving our kids to school in the morning because of the bus-driver shortage, trying to find a vaccine that actually works so we can visit Grandpa in the veteran’s hospital, and getting a building permit so we can build a pantry to hold all of our new bags. The point is, these little plastic crimes against nature are and have always been recyclable. You can bring them right back to the store you got them and, if you dig around under some old boxes, you’ll possibly find an empty “plastic film recycling” receptacle covered in dust and mouse droppings. Making these more prominent and accessible would have been easier than a high and heavy handed ban that required a big media campaign. Ah, but I forget… the point isn’t making a difference. The point is making a big media campaign. Paid for by our taxes. Damnit, the Murph just wrote himself a campaign check and we happily endorsed it.
Let’s pretend for a moment that we care to make a difference, why not? We’ve already hit the first “R” of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra. Here’s a no-grand-standing, no ban-planning, no political fire-fanning approach to making a difference:
- Reuse: Compress those bags into flat strips and use them for insulation in our homes. Energy efficiency will play as big a part as deplastification in the future.
- Recycle the bags we have. Seems a forgotten no-brainer. They were always crappy (even before my cats got at them) so they’re not good as double-use-bags anyway.
- Ask stores to start giving out biodegradable bags, if they must, like the brown paper bags that were, counter-productively, also banned by this law.
- Forget all that nonsense because the VAST majority of plastic waste is NOT the bags.
- Start asking local companies to go back to wax paper, cardboard, cloth, tin or glass for their packaging. Then ask harder. When they stop donating to your political campaigns, out them publicly. Reward those that willingly comply.
- Fix the recycling programs that no longer actively recycle cardboard, tin or glass.
There, wasn’t that easy? It shouldn’t take more than 50 years but by then it will be a problem for our grand children and they are bound to be smarter than us. Hopefully they were not crippled by anxiety after being told daily that everyone is out to get them, everything is dangerous and everything they do is harming the world. Hmmm. I think we need an addition to the above list.
7. Get off your high-horse, stop feeding us a line of horseshit that the world is ending and go back to using horseshit to get around, feed our fields and fuel our fires. The world has been around for 4.5 billion years and will be here long after we’re gone. Enjoy it while you’re here, do no harm, and don’t put anyone on a pedestal who wouldn’t gladly pull you up to join them. Oh, and don’t forget your damn tote-bag in the car.