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Paper? Plastic? I’ll take both

OK, I admit it. I’m one of the people hauling groceries to my car in plastic and, occasionally, paper bags. I don’t feel especially guilty about it, either. The bags get plenty of use once the groceries get home. The sturdy paper ones are a great receptacle for kitty litter when I clean the cat box (though I’m still not sure how I ended up that chore when my wife and son promised to do all the work if I we got a cat, which somehow turned into two cats …). Some of the plastic bags go back and forth to work and school, carrying gym clothes and lunches, before getting packaged together and placed in the recycling container. The rest of them become waste basket liners. I suspect that’s pretty typical.

So what happens if the city and/or county move forward with their plans to ban plastic grocery bags? I still need to clean the litter box, so I guess Safeway and G and G get a few dimes on top of the grocery bill. A few less lunches might be good for what’s left of my physique, but I expect I’ll still be carrying a sandwich to work. And my son’s gym clothes may look and smell like they can walk but …

And about those waste baskets. It took less than one summer of composting food scraps to convince me that wet garbage – and, hey, most everything else already is recyclable – has got to be bagged or everyone near it will gag. Of course, even if a ban is adopted, stores will be free to sell plastic bags to line garbage cans. It’s just those convenient, reusable (free) ones that groceries come home in that seem to be a concern. Hmmm.

– Jim Sweeney

21 Responses to “Paper? Plastic? I’ll take both”

  1. charles says:

    How can it be legal to sell plastic bags [like 'glad' bags] and [at the very same store] be illegal to give them away?

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  2. Richard James Emory says:

    Just put a bag over the idea of banning the plastic bag. We need them and our country needs them to keep things neat and clean. Think of the highways and biways without the plastic bags and the convict labor used to clean up the trash.

    Next time you dump you trash at the fast food outlet, thank the plastic bag for cleaning up the mess you created.

    The plastic bag is a good in this society. It is a minority of zealots with too much time on their hands who want plastic bags banned for very unsound reasons.

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  3. Kim says:

    A vast majority of the people that support this plastic bag ban also believe in a woman’s right to choose. They trust that woman to go to her doctor and choose to have a baby or not…..but…..they don’t trust that same woman to go to the grocery store and choose between paper or plastic!
    How assinine!

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  4. Sarkyfish says:

    See what I mean.

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  5. Follower says:

    @ Backwards

    “We all need to learn to do with less.”

    And if you don’t, I’m going to use the Government to force you too!

    And you’ll thank me for it because you’ll “find out in fact it’s more.”

    On a more interesting note…

    What’s with the “photos” in the Captcha? Did someone think it was too easy before??!!

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  6. Backwards says:

    Americans are so behind. This was solved years ago in many countries in Europe. They provide plastic bags, but only on request an at significant fee. That teaches people pretty quickly to bring their own bag and it would have the same impact here. People are essentially lazy and simply won’t stop using plastic bags, which are detrimental in many ways, unless they are forced to. Banning them outright is one solution, but another is simply to charge for them. As well, they should be required to be made of biodegradable materials. As for people complaining about not getting free plastic bags, there are other solutions (recall, there was a time when they didn’t exist) and whining about your own life becoming a bit harder simply because you won’t have access to free plastic bags is ridiculous. We all need to learn to do with less. When we do, we’ll find out in fact it’s more.

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  7. Sarkyfish says:

    There are people in this country so dissatisfied with their lives that they spend all of their time telling others how to live. “Share the pain” appears to be the only bag they’re in. A Mockingbird told me that.

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  8. Steveguy says:

    So, if my corner market that I have gone to for years decides to give me a paper bag they face a fine from the ‘bag police’ ?

    My oh my , no wonder we need a new $160 Million courthouse.

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  9. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Kevin Garrison-people don’t want to hear or believe in the dangers around them. You are spitting in the wind, my friend.

    Everytime I see a balloon in the sky I think, which animal is going to die from eating it, which baby bird will expire. Those mylar balloons are even more of a hazard because they’re shiny and many animals like shiny in their nests and dens. The abandoned plastic in the oceans are killing fish and mammals. Stomachs of whales found dead are full of man made debris. It truly is sickening. But people boating throw their garbage over the side and don’t care a bit what damage it will cause because they are too lazy to collect it and dispose of it properly. In the oceans there are huge floating islands miles across of debris people threw away at sea.

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  10. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    GAJ-Miraculously, I agree with you. I vetoed going in on a machine like that in my office. So much waste. And I have a screened one in my coffee maker at home and at work. Saves dough for me and no litter.

    I understand about the chips. I’m irritated by the cereal and noodle packages and the like. They’re only big to make us think we’re getting a lot, then when you open it you realize you’re getting ripped off. It’s a real waste.

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  11. Richard James Emory says:

    Ban the bag! All of this is total nonsense and feel good environmental BS perpetrated by the half-wits who are the elected officials in this county.

    Plastic bags have been with us for years. The dumps are not overflowing with plastic bags. The city council and board of supervisor chambers are not filled with plastic bags.

    Plastic bags have and do fill a very necessary purpose in our society. They organized and carry the goods we buy, They act as good disposal containers for our trash. They carry our dirty clothes and act as excellent storage containers for blankets and other things. They are used by street crews to pickup trash along the streets and highways. I could go on but you get the picture.

    Now we have a group of nimrods telling us they are bad for us like smoking and donuts. Most people reject this bunkum. Use your plastic bags as you see fit and make the world a cleaner, better place to live in.

    Vote no on banning plastic bags and the politicians who support this faulty concept.

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  12. Bob walker says:

    Why do we let the dumbest people in our society tell us how to live?
    Just askin…

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  13. GAJ says:

    Mockingbird, there is no question that packaging is completely out of control for many products, however, chips and cereal are often packaged the way you describe to prevent crushing of the product inside.

    The latest version of insane packaging overkill are those little plastic coffee individual servings for that new breed of wasteful coffee maker.

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  14. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    One of the things that really irritates me is to open a box of cereal, or noodles, or just about anything and find that much of the box is empty. Why not smaller packages for much of what we see on the grocery shelves? It has to save the manufacturers money and give the grocers more room on their shelves never mind that it is also greener. I would bet we could get rid of 2/3 of the packaging out there quite easily.

    The kitty litter problem is solved in San Francisco. We should go the same way and recycle. I would participate. Right now I use paper bags. It’s not something you can just dump in the environment even though it can be recycled. It needs to be processed to make it safe. We should all be recycling our kitchen waste too.

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  15. Steveguy says:

    @ Kevin Garrison– You are so wrong on your so-called ‘facts’.

    Plastic bags from the grocery store are actually 85% derived from natural gas.

    You should read up more before making ludicrous statements. Really

    Or post links for your ‘facts’..

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  16. Kevin Garrison says:

    Here are some facts about plastic bags:
    In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009. These bags, even when properly disposed of, are easily windblown and often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal require large quantities of non-renewable resources.
    There are many dangers involved with bisphenol A and phthalates, two additives commonly used in plastic. BPA makes plastic hard and phthalates make plastic soft. BPA and phthalates are two plastic additives that are known endocrine disruptors. Both are known endocrine disruptors. We all come into contact with these toxic chemicals through our food, personal care products and plastic containers.

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  17. Sarkyfish says:

    Jimmy boy is right (for a change). Plastic bags are good. They also make excellent rain hats in a pinch. In Mendocino County, Supervisor Hamburg took the lead in banning plastic bags. It helps the communist slave workers in China because that’s where 99% of all cloth (and plastic) tote bags are manufactured. Of course, Hamburg uses plastic turkey bags to store or transport the “medicine” or dope he’s grown over the years (a matter of public knowledge) in order that the authorities can’t smell it.

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  18. paul says:

    unfortunately, there are those who BELIEVE the plastic bag to be vile. I could probably name 30 uses of plastic bags that I have and still continue to use. That I also have other uses for paper bags only means that I’m not biased. The little lady woven shopping bags concept only shows the lackof perspective. That doesn’t work for everyone. NO ONE THING is going to be perfect. Let those of us who need and want the plastic have it. This fake green thinking is not thinking at all. I will shop at the last place giving plastic or paper bags with groceries.

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  19. Steveguy says:

    Exactly Jim, those bags serve a purpose. I thought that the mantra was ” Reduce, Re-use and Recycle “.

    The grocery bag litter problem is minuscule. I have done clean-ups of litter, and grocery bags are a minor portion of the plastic.

    The grocery bags have many uses after the point of purchase, unlike the cheese wrapper, meat wraps, the inside pouch of almost everything in a box, the mayo container, the shampoo bottle, the plastic that is wrapped around toilet paper or paper towels, my bread bags(re-usable) meat products ( hot dogs or fancy sausages, etc) yet alone the celery and carrot bags or produce bags in general. I could go on and on.

    Oh, and the fact that your old bag is very suspect cleanliness wise to me. I don’t know that the bag on the counter before me has been sprayed by a cat, set upon dog feces residue or had some chicken rot in it.

    I wonder the constitutionality of a law for someone to be REQUIRED to charge for paper bags, and from what I understand the retailer gets to keep the money, for now. What is to stop a person (merchant) from giving away something for free ? A fine ? With outrageous ‘court costs ?

    And by the way– the State requires a retailer to cover any alcohol purchase in an opaque bag. So the county wants to charge the bum getting a 40 of malt liquor another dime.

    Why does this kind of thing remind me of the TSA ? We are getting squeezed by BOTH fringes.

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  20. StarsUponThars says:

    it’s all about reuse.

    me, i like the plastic (made from recycled!!) oliver’s bags for the kitty litter and waste basket liners, and the paper bags for wrapping presents (i use the inside of the bag and draw little bows on them. it’s cute, cheap and ‘green’) as well as collecting recycling in the home.

    i honestly don’t know what i’ll do when/if the ban goes into effect with the kitty litter thing…

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  21. Dan Delgado says:

    I recall when the plastic bags first came out years ago we were sold the idea that they were good for the environment because trees were being saved and no more stinky pulp mills. The same argument was heard when McDonald’s went from wrapping their burgers in paper to styrafoam boxes (but then later went back to paper – maybe I’m dating myself here). Guess neither has proved to be the case, which makes me doubt the current claims that eliminating plastic bags is environmentally freindly. Me thinks there are other forces at work and Jim, you may have hit the nail on the head. Instead of getting those bags for free, we’ll be paying for them instead.

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