Trash Trip

Exploring waste, from coast to coast.

Pay-Per or Plastic – The Hot Seattle Debate

I noticed in the news last week and today that the pay-per-bag debate has hit another high: opponents to the $0.20/bag fee have pumped an additional $500,000 into their campaign efforts to stop efforts to “ban the bag.”

Well, actually, it’s not banning the bag – it’s having people take direct/financial responsibility for their impact on a larger issue: the impact of thin layers of impermeable plastic floating around the sewage system, snagging trees, and otherwise clogging up the landscape. People would have a choice in how their money is otherwise spent. Right now, people do not have a choice because the cost is passed on to them, through higher prices at the register. We all know that those little baggies aren’t free – someone is buying them and the store owners are going to have consumers pay for them – one way or another.

Now, $500,000 is a lot of money (the grand total committed is $740,000, including $10,000 from 7-11) to uphold the status quo, if you ask me. The ones who are footing the bill are, obviously, those who benefit from keeping things as-is: Virginia-based American Chemistry.

The proponents of adding a per-bag $0.20 fee is the Seattle Green Bag Campaign, which has raised about 1/10th the amount, $65,000.

David and Goliath come to mind.

I vividly recall “life before the plastic bag” (pre-90s) and don’t remember it as “hard times,” as opponents to the $0.20 fee might imply. Convenience has always come at a cost and it is only logical that the consumer should have a choice in how they spend their money:

1) Pay for the convenience of not bringing my own little bags to the store, or
2) Save myself some cash and bring my own little bags to the store.

We all know that we are ultimately paying for these little bags – this is undeniable in any argument, for or against. The downstream costs are ignored by those providing this product and we, the consumers/community/voters, pay for cleaning them out of the sewers, the landscape (i.e. road-side clean-up and more), and the landfills.

So, why not have the choice, at the time of purchase, to choose to save a greater (hidden) cost and use our own bags. If we were forgetful, then we’ll have the option of bringing things out, bag-free, to our cars, and carrying them into our homes with whatever we have there. Problems solved.

Hell, if anything, it’ll stop grocers from double-bagging everything, even small items weighing less than a pound!!

The articles I’ve culled this information from are all from the Seattle Sun Times:

July 21, 2009
July 20, 2009
July 18, 2009

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