Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

July 8, 2012

Ready for the Ban?

Great mock ad which made me realize that we only have about 3 weeks left until the Bellingham bag ban goes into effect.  The clip is foreign, so don’t expect any tasteful euphemisms, in fact it is certainly a bit on the dysphemistic side.

I’m not real sure how the whole bag ban thing is going to pan out, but probably not like the advertisement.  Really who is going to actually take their squid home in a cotton mesh bag?

As far as it affecting me?  I’m also not real excited about a bunch of paper bags lying around, so I’ll have to shake out my reusables and throw them in the car.   The Bellingham bag ban is actually fairly selective though,

  • Single-use plastic carry out bags are prohibited.  This includes all plastic bags less than 2.25 mils thick provided at check out or point of sale.
  • Customers must be charged 5 cents per large paper bag. Retailers keep the revenue from the 5-cent charge, which is taxable and must be shown on sales receipts.
  • Large paper bags requiring the 5-cent charge must be a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and the fiber content must be marked on the outside.
  • Smaller paper bags may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
  • Thick plastic bags — 2.25 mil or greater — are deemed reusable and may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion


…so it wouldn’t surprise me to see stores start offering heavier gauge plastic bags as a backup, rather than going back to paper and dealing with the City imposed nickel fee/tax, as well as the rain soaked paper bags dumping their customer’s purchases halfway to their car.    Other city’s like San Francisco actually amended their bans and tied up this loophole.

WHEREAS, The intention of the Ordinance was to reduce the use of single-use plastic
bags by banning them at supermarkets and drugstores; and,

WHEREAS, The Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance allows stores to give away reusable
bags, which are defined as including any plastic bag at least 2.5 mil thick; and

WHEREAS, This definition has resulted in the unintended consequence of some stores
distribtlting 2.5 mil thick polyethylene plastic bags,

SF bag ban amendment

Perhaps everyone will go with reusable  perhaps we’ll see a switch back to paper, perhaps we will see all stores go to the heavy gauge “legal” plastic as the norm.   We shall see.  We shall see.  We shall see.

March 7, 2011

Why the Nickel?

Bellingham City Council member Seth Fleetwood is bringing forth a proposed ordinance banning plastic shopping bags.   I haven’t read the actual proposal, but here’s a quick look from The News Tribune,

… a proposed city ordinance that would force retailers to stop offering plastic shopping bags to their customers within city limits. It also would require retailers to levy a 5-cent fee for every paper bag used by a customer.

The intent is to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their purchases, not just at the grocery but at other stores, too.

“This is what people did for 10,000 years,” Fleetwood said. “They brought their bag to the market.”

I guess that it if a City Council member is bringing this up, he must feel there is a real good chance that this will be accepted by the people of Bellingham.    But why would they?   Is it that they are anti-litter/pollution, believe it is a danger to wildlife, or is it that they are pro-government intrusion into private matters?

No doubt these plastic shopping bags are a nuisance, litter and a blight on the countryside.  The last time I drove through the open country around Denver I noted how many “shopping bag” trees they had growing natively along the freeways.   It’s ugly there and its getting that way around here.  If the City of Bellingham or even Whatcom County looked at the litter and environmental damage caused by plastic shopping bags and simply banned them altogether, I’d say go for it.  I’d even blog in support of it.  A simple ban would be a simple solution that would be simple to enforce and fair and equitable in it’s effects.

But this proposed ordinance is not a simple ban on plastic bags and if you read the whole article you’ll see that it really is very complex with all kinds of exceptions and most probably an enforcement non-starter.  The nickel rather than the complexity though, is the tip off that there is so much more than simple when it comes to this proposed ordinance.

The other part of the ordinance is about behavior control.   Not only would this ordinance ban us from using plastic bags, it also demands that stores charge us a fee/fine to get us to change our behavior.  And change us not just away from plastic bags, but also away from paper bags and into reusable bags.   If this were simply about plastic bags there would be no nickel in the ordinance.   And if paper bags can also be shown to be detriment like plastic shopping bags, then why the nickel?  Why not ban paper bags also?   Yes, part of this ordinance is bags, but another part is government control.

The simple ban would leave store owners and customers as the deciders in this brave new plastic-bagless region.    Customers might choose paper bags, reusable bags, or no bags.   Stores might choose to fully charge for paper, discount paper, no paper only reusable, or even go all Costco on us and offer either a bare cart or a big ol’ mayo box.

I can’t support what I see in this ordinance because it goes beyond protecting our environment and right into more control of our day to day lives.


Powered by WordPress