Slog: News & Arts

RSS icon Comments on Why We Should Ban Plastic Bags


But then what would I use to asphyxiate myself when I beat off?

Posted by Not Fnarf | June 27, 2007 12:52 PM

You use a garrot, just like the rest of us Fnarf. :P

Posted by Phelix | June 27, 2007 12:54 PM

I'm with Fnarf on this one.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 27, 2007 12:54 PM

OK, I'm convinced. I'll buy a canvas bag today and keep it in my car.

Posted by raindrop | June 27, 2007 12:55 PM

We are very conservative in Seattle.

We should ban plastic bags, we should go for congestion pricing, we should require more recycling, we should have tolls, we should get into eletric cars instead of banning them because they only go 25 mph, and we should stop mandating new parking spaces with new construction.

Lots of other cities do all this.
NY SF Singapore, London -- they are the greenies -- we are the weenies.

Posted by unPC | June 27, 2007 12:56 PM

My recollection is that the only reason we started using plastic bags in grocery stores was because they had handles. I mean, that's the only reason I asked for them when they first started appearing. Now that paper bags have handles too, I hardly see the point of the plastic ones.

Posted by Judah | June 27, 2007 1:01 PM

The person posting in comment #1 is not me. I'm perfectly happy with dry-cleaning bags.

I would also like to point out that there are no plastic bags in that bird carcass. Plastic, yes; bags, no. If you want to talk about the problem of plastics in the ocean and other places where wildlife gets at it, let's go there, but don't confuse the issue.

Posted by Fnarf | June 27, 2007 1:03 PM

Dear Fake Fnarf,

You're about 2 seconds from being banned.

Knock it off.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | June 27, 2007 1:05 PM

Fnarf: No, there aren't any plastic bags in that photo -- but there are in the North Pacific Gyre, which is what the photo illustrates. Go to the links for more info.

Posted by ECB | June 27, 2007 1:23 PM

Awww, man, ECB. I was eating. No more SLOG on my lunch break, apparently.

Posted by Callie | June 27, 2007 1:25 PM

I'm kinda with Real Fnarf @7 -- all those links discuss the problem of fugitive plastics in general. Banning plastic bags strikes me as simply a conscience-soothing, greener-than-thou option.

Posted by MvB | June 27, 2007 1:29 PM

I agree with #11. There is a bigger problem in those pics than just the plastic bags.

Posted by Just Me | June 27, 2007 1:40 PM

Banning plastic products would be difficult, to say the least. But why can't an effort be made to pick up the (all of the) debris? Certainly this would seem to be a logical function of the United Nations. And pity the poor waterfowl who are the victims of our lazyness.

Posted by crazycatguy | June 27, 2007 1:43 PM

I agree with Fnarf...

#1 is not Fnarf and is indeed not real.

Not Fnarf is truly not fnarf. Fnarf a fart?

Posted by ecce homo | June 27, 2007 1:45 PM

There are several demonstrably better products than plastic bags - even just requiring biodegradable bags would be an excellent step.

When we're done with those, let's ban six-pack plastic rings.

It seems to me that a good overall solution is for any store selling something in packaging to take back the excess packaging. Individuals will never decide, as a group, to stop doing something bad for the environment, but the businesses involved will solve the problem by innovating if we make them.

Posted by Ben Schiendelman | June 27, 2007 1:55 PM

As I've said before, there's no such thing as a biodegradeable bag. If it goes into a landfill, it's not going to degrade whether it's made of paper, plastic, or slices of American cheese woven together.

It's more complicated than that. Paper bags are just as bad or worse for the environment as plastic ones -- they take more energy to produce, they involve more toxic substances and effluents, etc. However, you can't use a plastic bag to keep your food scraps for your yard waste bin (you have a yard waste bin, right? You put your food scraps in there, right?). But plastic bags are more convenient for regular trash (we end up having to recycle very few of our plastic bags).

The problem of plastics in the ocean is vast and global. Banning bags has momentum and press right now, but it's window dressing. How many people advocating the banning of bags have had a bottle of water or soda recently? The bottle goes into recycling, the CAP goes into the Pacific Ocean. Our world is filled with little tiny plastic bits.

My favorite ocean plastics story is the first time I went to the beach after moving to the East Coast. I sat down on the lovely sand and took in the view until a little pink thing caught my eye. Plastic? Here? But wait -- it's a goddamn tampon applicator! Yuck! Wait, there's another one, blue. And another, and another -- it turned out there were THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of tampon applicators, and no other debris at all. They float, see. This was in Salem or Marblehead, Massachusetts.

I'm not saying I'm violently opposed to banning the bags. I'm just saying, don't get the idea you're making a big impact if you do.

Posted by Fnarf | June 27, 2007 2:11 PM

The Fnarf that can be spoken of is not the true Fnarf.

Posted by supergp | June 27, 2007 2:15 PM

Fnarf 17, the Boston harbor rangers call those things "pink torpedos".

Posted by nemo | June 27, 2007 2:24 PM

To quote the great George Carlin: "The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic...plastic came out of the earth, the earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children...could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place: it wanted plastic for itself, didn't know how to make it, needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question...why are we here?: plastic, assholes."

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 27, 2007 2:35 PM

Gross photos. But I will not support any such ban. Why? I use the bags guilty free and let me tell you how you can too.

I have a bucket, the kind most folks use to hold water while washing the floor... not a tall trash can, like the suburbia folks use with (plastic bag) trash can liners. (to boot, my bucket/trash can fits perfectly under my kitchen sink).

Into my bucket goes a plastic shopping bag, then when plastic-grocery-bag-cum-trash-can-liner gets full, the handles get tied together and outside it goes. I also use the plastic grocery bags to bag up my recycling, since sorting recycling is passe in this city and it all goes into one outdoor recycle bin anyways. My system of double use has a lot of plus sides, the least of which is that I do not buy plastic trash can liners. A Hefty Bag is a dirty word around my casa.

I won't get behind this ban because I have a good use for those bags, and if they were suddenly not available, then I would have to buy me some plastic trash can liners. Plastic grocery bags are the best trash bags because of the double use factor. Also, using the small bags helps on cutting down on the smell of a trash can waiting to get full.

I have tried using paper grocery bags as trash bags, but when wet from food waste, they tend to fall apart.

However, if there is another way to get my trash out of the house, in somesort of (bag) like container (the trash collection company doesn't take trash that is not bagged up, I know, I have tried just dumping it into the outside can... they won't take it if it isn't bagged), then I am open to it.

Posted by Phenics | June 27, 2007 2:53 PM

Exactly what I do, Phenics. IKEA even sells a little plastic doodad for about a dollar that sticks to the inside of your cupboard door that allows you to jam old bags in at the top, then snick one out at the bottom when you need it. Haven't bought trash liners in years.

I do use paper bags for food waste in a separate can, because you're allowed to throw the paper bag full of food scraps (and napkins, pizza boxes, paper towels...) into the yard waste bin.

What the long-term impact of removing food waste from the regular landfill is, I don't know. It's pretty much the only stuff in there that will ever decompose. But the yard waste disposal is an elegant solution.

Posted by Fnarf | June 27, 2007 3:16 PM

A friend of mine runs a landfill for a small town and he hates plastic bags. No matter how hard they work at it they can't keep the wind from blowing them out. At least one rainfall makes a paper bag stationary.

ECB, I can't believe you didn't reffer to using plastic bags as "raping" the ocean.

Posted by mikeblanco | June 27, 2007 3:49 PM

I save plastic grocery bags and use them to pick up after my dog. I have recently been wondering whether this is a reasonable thing to do from an environmental standpoint (better than buying plastic bags specifically for that purpose, I assume). Do any dog owners have a better alternative?

Posted by Julie | June 27, 2007 4:02 PM

Grocery bags should be banned outright, zero fucking tolerance. Bring your own. This is when brutal Stalinist measures would come in handy. If people can't be bothered to bring their own bags, our species doesn't deserve to live and should promptly commit mass suicide.

Posted by Jay | June 27, 2007 5:35 PM

Charging for plastic bags would be a compromise. In America, we don't get charged for every bag... paper or plastic. Prices should be cheap, so all wage earning scales can pay nickels, dimes, quarters for a bag. Double bags start to add up. It encourages reuse; two, three or four times for groceries is fairly realistic, six or seven if a person is hard-core and want to save a buck. Then, after resuse, the spent bag is tossed into the refuse full of trash.

Should fit right in fine in nickel and diming Seattle.

Posted by Phenics | June 27, 2007 8:10 PM

Charging for bags would encourage cloth bag use. But you have to charge for paper and plastic bags, equally or unequally that’s academic, but charging is important…

Americans in grocery stores tend not to notice price discounts automatically deducted from the sales price; Americans do notice “price saving” reductions in the sales price. Club cards, advantage cards, you know, people have them and can’t live without them.

A quarter a grocery bag, spread out over $200 of food… that’s a lot of bags. People will remember to save the bags, or buy the cloth ones, when at a quarter a bag, 15 plastic bags doubled-up, is $7.50 on top of the food cost. Every SINGLE time.

Posted by Phenics | June 27, 2007 8:30 PM

one of my favourite gifts anyone has ever given me: chico bags.

if you don't want to take advantage of the buy 4 get one free offer online, you can find them at ballard market (and other places - they're good about getting back to you if you write them with an inquiry.)

now that i just listed that, i should get my ass to the ballard market in case they get a run on them.

Posted by jezbian | June 27, 2007 11:12 PM

I hate the plastic bags. Most of them are so cheap that they start to split before you get home, and if you have them in the car, they tend to roll around and squish your arugala.

I liked the good, old-fashioned brown paper bags. Those were bags you could set your clock to, unless it was raining. But they were still better than plastic.

I've tried to bring my own bags, but I'm not organized enough. And when I remembered to bring them, I had to put them in my shoulder bag, which always made me look like I was one of those people who live out of their bag, which made it difficult to get dates. No one wants to date someone like that.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | June 28, 2007 6:16 AM

Wowsers, after reading about 50% of those articles, all I've got to say is "Holy FUCK! We are really screwing this planet up."

Thankfully, I know for certain that life will go on. Complex lifeforms arose from the slime before, it can do it again. Calamities worse than humans have befallen this plan and life kept on chugging along.

Makes for interesting reading!

Posted by The Wet One | June 28, 2007 9:07 AM

I don't get why using cloth bags is so difficult for people. Do you not plan shopping trips in advance? Do people actually grocery shop on impulse? I detest grocery shopping, so we do it once a week, it's preplanned, and we take our own bags to the store. Ditto for trips to Costco. The only time I get plastic bags is when I run out of them - I use them to line the collector bin for the litterbox so I don't have to dig for buried treasure. They do work quite nicely to bag up the catcrap.

Whole Foods sells very nice, lightweight, strong cloth bags with a flat floor (so they stay open) and strong handles for about a dollar. They're great bags, although I do feel kind of strange putting potato chips and candy bars in a Whole Foods bag...

Posted by Geni | June 28, 2007 4:22 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).