I appreciate choice. Should I take a yoga class or hike up a mountain this morning? Should I do homework or shop later in the day? Would I prefer to kill 200 types of species with my grocery bag this year, use valuable petroleum resources in its manufacture, and spend a significant amount of my state’s budget on its recycling…or opt to remember my own canvas tote?
What? That’s right…earlier this month, California voted down a ban on single-use plastic bags starting in 2012 and 2013. Opponents of the bill argued it infringed on “personal choice.” Here are some of them, in their own words:
- If we pass this piece of legislation, we will be sending a message to the people of California that we care more about banning plastic bags than helping them put food on their table – Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Lake Forest.
- Groups were concerned about the cost the ban on plastic bags would put on working families, specifically $1 billion per year to buy paper bags – Keith Christman of the American Chemistry Council, saying that more than 500 organizations and companies were against the ban
Specifically, the organizations rallied by the American Chemistry Council argued that the bag fee would increase the grocery bills of a state beset by debt and put workers in plastic bag manufacturing plants out of work. Although, reusable bag companies would begin to employ more workers if the legislation passed.
I am confused by this logic. I wish someone would explain it to me. The fee on bags is instituted to change the habits of shoppers. Instead of paying, people would learn to bring their own bags. Just like they do in many European nations, as well as China and in Mexico City.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited about the state of affairs in California. They say – “Thanks to the millions spent by lobbyists for the American Chemistry Council, Dow, and Exxon to defeat these bills, now every Californian knows just what the acronym BPA means; why BPA should never be allowed in baby products; and exactly how much cash-strapped California spends on collection and removal of plastic bags (at least $25 million, and possibly much more), lavishly handed away at the checkout lines.”
Dear California state legislature officials: you made the personal choice to oppose the bill in exchange for pay-offs from the American Chemistry Council. Despite this, we can all exercise our personal choice and refuse single-use plastic.