Even with Large, Undeniable Benefits; Opposition to Plastic Bag Ban Lingers

recyclable green bag

recyclable green bag

Lead by San Francisco back in 2007, plastic bag bans in cities are growing in popularity. It is hard to dispute the positive environmental impact of plastic bag bans, but heated debate still surrounds the topic. For consumers, those in opposition to such bans cite inconvenience and the expense of having to purchase bags. Merchants, especially grocery stores, also have reservations. In any case, it is obvious that a needed change is taking place. Here are some of the biggest benefits to plastic bag bans as well as some of the reasons critics give for opposing these bans.

Short Term Use Creates a Long Term Problem

According to the clean air council, American use more than one billion plastic bags each year. Further, a very small number are recycled. For those bags that are recycled, the process in an expensive one. Plastic bags are used for an hour or two for a shopping trip; but remain a problem for many years. They are not biodegradable and take up a lot of precious landfill space.

Beyond Landfill Problems; Plastic Bags Creating Problems in the Environment

When plastic bags are not filling up landfills or being expensively recycled they can be found around cities clogging sewer pipes and injuring and killing wildlife. The clean air council discusses the scary fact that when plastic bag particles enter the water, marine animals can ingest the particles and the toxins from the plastic are passed on to whoever eats that animal; including humans.

Still a Heated Debate

Despite the obvious environmental benefits that can be realized through plastic bag bans, it still remains a hot topic. In San Francisco, for example, shoppers must either bring a reusable bag or pay a small fee to purchase paper bags if they do not have bags or have forgotten them. Some shoppers dislike the inconvenience this causes. The largest distributors of plastic bags to the public are grocery stores. Grocery stores are concerned about the added cost of purchasing recycled paper bags rather than cheaper plastic bags. But requirements to charge shoppers a fee to purchase paper bags should help.

Personal Impact

If you are not already using reusable bags, plastic bag bans might concern you. But there are many benefits to using reusable bags and there are many great options available. Insulated grocery bags are a great way to keep food cold on the drive home and improve food safety. Cloth bags are also typically a lot more comfortable to carry than plastic bags and more convenient than paper bags that do not have handles. If you are concerned about forgetting your bags, keep a supply of reusable bags in your car; they are small and can be stored in a small space like the glove compartment or a pocket behind a seat.

With any large scale change comes a wide range of opinions from strong support to fierce opposition. Although plastic bag bans are becoming more common and support seems to be gaining; the public will need time to adjust to this large change. It is hard to argue, however, that this is a worthwhile goal to pursue.




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