Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is Banning the Plastic Bag a Panacea?

It'd be nice if just banning plastic grocery bags would solve our litter and pollution problems, but it won't -- because they'd still be all those other pieces of trash and the thoughtless consumption of resources.

What would be an even better idea, is to go around once a week with one of those plastic grocery bags and fill it with all that other litter -- and beautify the neighborhood (environment) in that very real way, and one will realize that the plastic grocery bags are a small part of the total trash being dumped out thoughtlessly by people.

That would be far more meaningful than simply banning the plastic grocery bag -- that is very useful, especially to the people who walk, bike and bus -- instead of riding around in their SUVs.

I know it would be very inspiring to see young people going around picking up trash this way -- and for that matter, people of every age and socio-economic condition, as a very tangible display of their concern for the environment, and its stewardship.

But simply to ride around in one's SUV instead of walking, bicycling or busing while deploring the poor people carrying their bags long distances, doesn't show a lot of understanding of the impact of one's activities on the environment, and even more importantly, one's relationship to other people, who may not have the luxury of a car to transport their paper bags -- especially in the inclement weather Oregon is world-famous for.

So let's get to the bigger root of the problem -- which is the littering and pollution of all those things -- and not just one small gesture one hopes will be a panacea to a vastly greater problem. Then after banning the plastic garbage bag, we have to ban the paper cup, sandwich wrappers, and yes, the paper bag that is as great a source of the problem as the plastic bags.

So the problem is not any particular kind of litter -- but all littering, and how we could solve that problem very tangibly and effectively.


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