Marolt: Recycling a scandal to help save the planet |

Marolt: Recycling a scandal to help save the planet

Roger Marolt
Roger This

It doesn’t make sense. There has to be another scandal going on. We’re supposed to believe that plastic-bag tax revenue increased by a whopping 23 percent this year while grocery sales nudged up just 4 percent? And the city is spending more than ever on educating us on how bad that is? Hmmm.

This, in the age of saving-the-planet enlightenment? When, by nearly unanimous consent, we believe we can make a difference by carrying our groceries home in grungy reusable bags, flimsy boxes and linty coat pockets?

This supposed rise in the number of Aspenites who don’t care about the planet is preposterous! If we are to believe the sharp upward trend of practiced ignorance, we can only be a few years away from double-bagging all of our groceries in three-ply plastic sacks. This can’t be. And because it can’t be, it’s got to be a scam.

You want to know what’s going on? I’ll tell you what’s going on. Ever since the plastic-bag-fee tax was put in place, our local grocery stores have ignored collecting it because the local Bag Enforcement Agency (B.E.A.) didn’t enforce it due to incompetence. And to think, on top of this bag-tax laxity, many local scofflaws were cramming their groceries into free bags obtained in the produce department while their cars idled outside on the streets in scammed free parking spaces. It’s absolutely maddening!

Not coincidentally, it all came to a crashing halt when the parking-meter-swindle story broke. Suddenly, people had to pay for paid parking, and grocery-store managers and bag-tax collectors got scared. They realized that somebody was finally paying attention; that they actually had to do their jobs or risk being subjects of nasty letters to the editor. Just like that, cash registers started ringing with 20-cent penalties collected for forgetting reusable sacks and the clear, plastic bags in the produce section were once again only for bananas, beans and salady things.

As a side note, it has crossed my mind that the city’s own B.E.A. officers might have been the biggest parking-meter scammers. We may never know the truth, but it is interesting that, at least for now, the city appears to be giving up on pursuing the parking scammers, whom they certainly must have been able to identify. Could a few of their own have been on the list? Does the B.E.A. have carte blanche in this town? I doubt the sheriff would have handled it this way.

I mean, either it’s this scenario or there’s something else going on. If we are going to consider the latter, though, a lot of bizarre things have to be accepted as truth.

The first would be that the bag tax is being ignored because money means nothing in Aspen. This is an almost inconceivable notion. The fact is that money means everything in Aspen! This place is all about jets, mansions and Range Rovers, all of which take lots of money to be seen in. So, forget that idea.

Secondly, we would have to presume that the people of Aspen don’t care about the world. Are you kidding? They don’t nickname a place “Glitter Gulch” because it is rooted in the spiritual plane. We’re nothing if we are not materialistic. Our motto might as well be: “You are what you have in storage.” The earth is the foundation of all things material. Aspen is the center of it. Of course we love this planet! So, forget that one, too.

Lastly, we would have to accept that education doesn’t work. We spread the statistics and proof about how bad nonrecyclable bags are and then use them more than before we were made aware? Come on.

Then, too, it could be something preposterous like — I don’t know — our visitors have figured out something like — I don’t know — after trying to use reusable bags they decided that it’s hard for them to keep track of them while on vacation, and it’s not like they pack them up and take them home and bring them back again next time, so it turns out they use reusable bags only once before sending them to the landfill so it’s really actually more environmentally friendly to pay the tax and opt for one-use paper bags.

All these things are like saying the bag tax is not suitable for a place like Aspen. Obviously, that’s not true. Therefore, it adds up; the rise in nonreusable-bag-tax collections means that there’s another glitch in the city’s operations. There’s no other explanation.

Roger Marolt thinks bag-tax revenue should be spent convincing people that Aspen is bad for the environment. Email him at

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