San Francisco bag ban

Rita Hibbard's picture

Just say 'no' to plastic and paper - bring your own bags until lawmakers - and voters - get the courage to act

Just say no.

To paper and plastic.

An Oregon lawmaker is backing legislation to ban plastic bags. A big fight is shaping up, with plastic bag makers pointing to the  harmful effects of paper, and asking 'who can say paper is worse than plastic?' In Seattle last year, rita_hibbardwebvoters bowed to big spending by big plastic and chemical interests and voted down a proposal to  impose fees on all disposable bags.

The Oregon battle, a long shot to begin with, will be a tough one, marked by rhetoric and big spending by corporate interests that have derailed similar efforts around the nation. Expect that to continue. Why? Because nationwide, grocery stores and pharmacies go through about 92 billion plastic bags a year, compared to about 5 billion paper bags.

“The plastic industry … will try to win local battle by local battle,”  Marc Mihaly, director of the environmental law center at Vermont Law School, says of such contests. “They will intimidate where they can. If they can’t intimidate … they will try to influence legislators.”

But all of us could make the decision ourselves, and just bring our own re-usable bags. Yeah, it's hard to remember.  And really annoying to carry five oranges, a jar of honey and three cans of dog food out of the store with no bag. But, sigh, we could save a lot of money and energy and advertising brochures headed for the landfill if we just said 'no.'  To non-reusable bags, that is.

The Oregonian's Scott Learn writes that State Sen.

Rita Hibbard's picture

Mexico City says 'no' to nonbiodegradable plastic bags

Mexico City has joined the anti-plastic bag crusade. It became illegal last week for supermarkets and other businesses to hand out nonbiodegradable plastic bags to consumers, reports LA Times blogger Deborah Bonello from Mexico City. With the ban, Mexico City becomes the second bigggest city in the Western Hemisphere to enact such a ban, following San Francisco, which enacted the ban way back in 2007. Seattle voters rejected a fee-for-plastic (and paper) earlier this month after Big Chemical spent $1 million lobbying against the measure. San Jose city council members currently are considering such a measure, as reported earlier this week on InvestigateWest.

Bonello reports having her grocerices packed into plastic bags "emblazoned with a logo promising they were biodegradable."

She also notes:

The move by the Mexico City government follows a number of other recent environmentally friendly initiatives, including the introduction along some routes of new buses that emit less pollution, and a planned bike-lending scheme expected to launch in December.

Officials hope to increase bicycle use, but riding on the streets of the city right now is a health risk due to a lack of bicycle lanes and reckless drivers.

-- Rita Hibbard