Bag it, tag it
Until today, I was in favor of banning those flimsy, single-use, plastic shopping bags. I’ve been using cloth bags for several years, and frequently sing their praises. In addition to the many benefits to the environment, they’re incredibly convenient – I can bring all my groceries into the house in one trip, thanks to the spacious, handled bags.
When I used the plastic bags in the past, their limited capacity required several trips, and their poor construction almost always guaranteed that some of my groceries would end up scattered about my car or in the store’s parking lot. Yes, I believed that reusable bags were the way to go, and since people weren’t adopting them in large numbers, a ban on the plastic bags was the only way we were going to reduce our usage of scarce resources.
Then I read Jay Gottlieb’s letter, and it showed me how impractical my thought processes had been (“Plastic bag saves the day,” July 14, 2011, The Aspen Times). Catastrophic shower drain clogs like the tragic one the Gottliebs experienced are plaguing this country. Surely we can afford to find more landfill space and import more oil in order that American families like the Gottliebs are able to cope with occasional messes. It’s not like large companies are making products capable of handling wet, sticky or oily waste. I’ll bet Mr. Gottlieb was glad he had something to hold his hefty mess.
Sustainable living practices sound great when you’re sitting around in beanbag chairs, listening to Phish and drinking herbal tea. Real life, however, demands excess consumption. The Earth is really big, and we’ll never stop finding all the oil, minerals, and water we need to support our lifestyles. If we outlaw plastic bags, then only outlaws will have plastic bags.