It's Time For Us To Follow China's Lead!

Yeah, you heard me. China. China is doing something that we should have done years ago:

They're banning the plastic bag.

A few months ago, I was listening to the radio (NPR) and the topic of banning plastic bags came up. The town of Fairfax (CA?) wanted to ban the bags, but the plastic bag industry immediately threatened to sue, on - are you sitting down?

On environmental grounds.

"The plastics industry said it would sue on environmental grounds. Sharon Kneiss of the American Chemistry Council says that, by banning plastic, Fairfax was giving a tacit endorsement to use paper bags, which could hurt the environment.

"Bans on plastic bags are not a good environmental choice," she says. "Bans aren't the answer, recycling is the answer.""

I was listening to this as I was stuck in traffic on Milwaukee Avenue, just north of where it merges with River Road. It was March, and there were no leaves to hide the hundreds of plastic bags stuck in the branches of the trees along the Des Plaines River. HUNDREDS of them. It was disgusting. As I looked at the winter-dead trees sporting the bags they'd managed to catch in their branches, listening to the claim that banning plastic bags was "not a good environmental choice" was tantamount to being told that plutonium-laced lead is a healthy dietary supplement and should be ingested regularly for maximum benefit. Sharon Kneiss should have considered taking Tony Snow's job as White House Press Secretary back when he resigned.

Shops in Ireland actually charged us 15p/bag, so we learned very quickly to hang on to any bags we had and to bring them with us when we went shopping on the Emerald Isle. We do reuse our bags at home as garbage liners, but we're trying to get in the habit of remembering to bring our own cloth bags with us when we go grocery shopping.

I am thrilled that one of the superpowers has made this huge, necessary step in cleaning up the environment, and I'm even more thrilled that it's China. The US is always so quick to positively compare itself to China - our levels of pollution are lower, our working conditions are far better, our civil liberties more expansive, our demand for basic human rights greater. For China to surge ahead on the environmental front will force us stand up and take notice.

And to do the same.

Only faster!


Butternugget said...

I heard the same NPR story a while ago and was pleased as well.

The loophole that I am afraid they will use in China is that shop keepers can't hand them out for "free". They can however have a surcharge. BUT, like you said, it is at least doing something, we've got to start somewhere.

I was there in 1999 and something I told everyone is that the air was terrible, and it probably had a lot to do with the amount of plastic bags I saw being burned on trash piles.

Granted there is a lot more wrong with their air, but it was unbelievable how many plastic bags and plastic bottles I saw burning.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

I'd be okay with a surcharge! The surcharge in Ireland was very effective - when we asked for bags we got strange looks, as if they weren't used to people wasting money like that.