Saturday, September 1, 2007

Paper or Plastic...We Still Haven't Decided?

If an alien from outer space were to have landed in Annapolis 1 month ago, they could send a report back to the Omicron Galaxy that elected officials on Earth govern by press releases and media quotes. This is because the city council does not meet in August.

But now we are in September, and actual meetings with agendas will take place. And certainly near the top of the agenda will be plastic bags.

To recap, AP's position on this issue is as follows:
-It is not clear whether plastic bags or paper bags are better for the environment.
-Reusable bags would be the best solution.
-This bill does not promote reusable bags, it just bans plastic bags.
-Banning plastic bags is, like, step Z, and we need to take steps A-Y. For example, private industry can work with government and citizens rather than argue with them. (Note: what I have just described is known as the Reverse of the Moyer Approach.)
-Litterers, not plastic bags, are the problem.

Let's use a letter to the editor of The Capital that had the misfortune of not being published. You can see letters that don't appear in the paper here.

I am writing in support of Sam Shropshire’s proposal to ban plastic bag distribution in Annapolis.

You are the only one.

I was thrilled that Annapolis could possibly lead the way in something environmentally inventive, since I usually read with envy about these ideas going on in California.

You sound like a west coast liberal. Although, I kinda' see what you are saying--the city council has spent their time on things that don't really matter, like Midshipman Owens, and you would like to see them lead the way in something relevant. What? You weren't' saying that? Oh well, I tried.

I have used canvas bags for shopping for years, and although I turn them down for small purchases, I still find it impressive how many plastic bags I end up with at home from newspapers, packaging and incidental purchases.

I once turned down a bag for a small purchase at 7-11, only to realize later that I needed somewhere to put my discarded banana peel. As it were, the banana peel remained and created a heck of a sanitation problem. It was embarrassing for everyone involved.

In an interview with a representative of a large grocery store chain, I found it disturbing that the fact that bags can be recycled into materials used to make benches was used as an argument to keep using them. The twisted logic misses the obvious point. The benches came out of desperation to find something to do with all of those bags that we generated.

First of all, the resins created by the recycled plastic bags are useful in a whole lot of things--not just benches.

Second of all, why you hatin' on supermarkets? ('Why you hatin' is slang for 'why do you have a negative attitude towards'. Doesn't it sound cooler?) If they found a way to recycle bags, and can even make money doing it (therefore perhaps hiring more workers or lowering prices), who are you to complain?

And C, benches are very useful. Have you ever needed to bend over to tie your shoe? Have you ever eaten a pretzel at the mall? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you win $1,000,000!! Just kidding--you know we need benches. Here is the list of the top 5 most underrated useful items:

1. an AAA membership
2. ice scraper for your car
3. benches
4. a cell phone case
5. this blog

Another argument raised was that by abandoning plastic bags, purchase and disposal of much thicker trash bag liners will rise, and they are more polluting and aren’t recycled but dumped.

Sounds reasonable (their argument--not your sentence). Point being that we can't possibly know all of the unintended consequences of this (or any other) proposed law.

Kitchen trash bags out of biodegradable materials are a wonderful alternative and already exist. We shouldn't be collecting wasteful plastic bags from stores just because they line our trash cans well. Similarly, I have known people who enjoy getting paper bags so they can neatly store their recycling. Generating trash to store trash doesn’t make sense.

You are right--biodegradable and reusable alternatives are awesome, but Mr. Shropshire's bill has nothing to do with this. It is merely a ban on plastic bags.

People are clever and bright. I refuse to believe this is the best we can do.
JULIE SHAY, Severna Park

I can't wait for September.

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