At last night's city council meeting, legislation to prohibit local businesses from distributing plastic bags was introduced. This was hardly a secret, and some hippie environmentalist types were on hand to support the bill. Conversely, the owner of Storm Bros. Ice Cream and City Wraps, Sveinn Storm, was on hand to argue against the bill. It is worth noting that Mr. Storm's investigative journalism regarding the malpractices of several sewage treatment plants has won a Peabody award, several local Emmy awards, and landed him in jail. Here is his testimony:
The plastic bags I use in my stores cost about a penny each. Replacing them with paper bags will result in a 500% increase in cost.
In the meantime, the paper bags you wish to force me to use will produce 70% more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than my plastic bags. Before you question these facts, understand that they have been provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You see four times as much energy is required to produce paper bags and 85 times as much energy is needed to recycle them. Paper takes up nine times as much space in landfills and doesn't break down there at a substantially faster rate than plastic does.
Have we forgotten where paper bags come from? They don't just grow on trees. Oops, wait a minute, that's exactly where they come from.
Now if the goal is to get away from using plastics altogether, let's also ban plastic spoons, forks, knives, cups and bottles. Perhaps I could persuade my customers to be responsible and bring their own silverware and drinking glasses.
Why not go one step further and ban the use of paper napkins? Maybe I could convince my customers to make use of their shirt sleeves?
I know these options sound rather absurd, but so is this plastic bag ban proposal. Let's face it. We live in a throwaway society and we need to deal with it in an intelligent manner.
In our home we find many uses for these bags. We use them as litter bags in our cars, we line our trash cans with them and we use them for poop and scoop bags for our dog. Perhaps you would prefer us to buy plastic bags for these purposes. I should also add that the ones we don't use, we take back to the store and recycle.
The real culprits are the slobs who litter or people who refuse to recycle, or communities like ours that don't provide and easy means for them to do so.
So what are some realistic answers? For starters, why don't we put out recycling receptacles clearly marked for plastic bottles and aluminum cans?
Why not enforce our existing laws? Both the police and parking enforcement personnel could very easily issue citations for these offenders. Have you bothered to research the number of times these laws are actually enforced? In over three decades down at the City Dock I have never seen anyone receive a ticket for this offense yet we have several public works employees who spend a significant amount of their day cleaning up after these scofflaws.
Enforcement and public education will help far more than an impractical, counterproductive ban on a product that is used properly and recycled every day by responsible people. It shouldn't take a millennium to alter wasteful behavior.
I am sickened at the prospect of being forced to contribute to the cutting down of more trees to make more paper bags available. I am distressed that you wish to legislate in a way that will contribute even more toward global warming.
If you are really concerned about our environment, you will not approve this bill. But if making a name for yourself is your goal, go right ahead.
SVEINN C. STORM