The New York Times reports that various plastic bag-reduction initiatives around the country are stalling – or flatlining – due to economics. The plans in the works in places like Seattle, San Francisco and New York have included charges of 5 to 20 cents per plastic bag – and in some cases, paper bags – at, for example, grocery stores.
The intent is – was – to foster a reusable bag culture and wean consumers off their plastic bag dependency. Now, critics are saying the rough economic road we’re on these days is cause enough to halt progress of those initiatives – and related legislative proposals.
Don’t confuse me for someone who is financially above the morass here, but if I need, say, five plastic bags per weekly grocery shopping trip and had to pay a nickel for those bags, it’s easy to figure out that buying one of those one-dollar reusables at the checkout counter will quickly earn back its investment.
And I feel certain there’s no one who can’t adjust their grocery list to accommodate the investment. There are countless ways to spend less on a shopping trip. Put the candy bar back and you get a reusable bag that will last and last and last. Put down that six-pack of soda or beer and you have a fistful of reusable bags that will last and last and last and last.
Sure, plenty of people don’t care enough to make those simple, one-time “sacrifices.” But that’s why legislations across the country ever started considering fees and bans on the disposable bags.
What’s halting progress – reducing waste, pollution and, in the case of Connecticut, which proposes $10 million a year from this type of initiative going into the bank account for the Environmental Protection Department – is not the actual impossibility of finances, it’s the politics related to the perception of it.