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Banning plastic bags

February 1, 2012 - Jodelle Greiner
When I go to the store, I try to remember to bring a reusable cloth bag with me to carry my purchases. Usually, I buy more than will fit in the bag and wind up taking home a few of the plastic bags, too.

I save those bags to use in small wastebaskets; a trick I learned from our resident assistant in college, those bastions of higher education. (She said you should always line your wastepaper basket with a plastic bag in case you wake up sick in the middle of the night and need to puke. You just pull the bag out and throw it away instead of having to clean up the wastebasket. Make sure you use a bag with no holes.)

When the plastic bags seem like they’re multiplying like rabbits, I take a bunch to places that ask for them, like 12 Baskets or the various grocery or discount stores, so they can be reused or recycled.

I like the convenience of having those little bags to hold garbage, my shoes when I travel, cushion things during shipping or moving, and a dozen other little uses.

Now I hear Seattle has banned plastic bags.

I know the reasons: the bags take up a lot of room in landfills, don’t break down so they aren’t environmentally friendly, and can be dangerous to animals, among other things.

Their intentions are admirable; they want to save as much of the environment as they can and protect our resources, but I wonder how much good it will really do?

People who care about the environment are already doing what they feel comfortable doing, whether that’s biking to work, composting, recycling or reusing shopping bags. There are so many ways to help save the environment and keep extra money in your pocket that, if you are of that mind, you can’t help but be aware of them and find some that you can do.

Then there are those people who couldn’t care less. They don’t want the inconvenience of changing their lifestyle to try to help the environment. They think it doesn’t matter what they do, because just one person can’t make a difference.

But if everyone did a little bit, it does make a difference.

The trick is to get people to believe that. No matter what the law says, it’s people’s attitudes that determine their habits. If everyone believed their efforts made a difference and weren’t just wasted energy, I wonder what we could accomplish, working together.


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