SouthCoast Lunacy in Banishing Plastic Bags [OPINION]
In my own town of Dartmouth, I find myself cursing the select board members every time I forget to shop in New Bedford. I've imposed my own ban on shopping for groceries in Dartmouth because of the ridiculous ban on plastic bags.
Every time I sell out for the sake of a five-minute drive to New Bedford, I cringe when I see the bagger at the grocery store open up a poorly constructed, useless and inferior paper bag that I'm forced to deal with. I hope every select board member steps on a Lego.
I was especially incensed when I was carrying my bags from the store to the car, in the rain, watching the paper bags quickly getting soaked. When I took them out of my back hatch to my SUV, the soggy bag folded over like a – well, like a cheap paper bag – and a jar of pickles rolled out and broke on my driveway. Did they re-train the grocery packers for this? I don't think so.
What is the goal here? Carbon footprint? Do you have stock in paper mills? Maybe you like to see groceries fall out for the comic video opportunities? I am not impressed with the research the town put into this.
Now, the New Bedford City Council is imposing the same nonsense. I hope you trip on your anti-vagabond spiked cobblestones. Use your brains, people. Why only invest so much energy into the appearance of using them?
The paper bag is not better than the plastic one for environmental purposes. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.
Let me list my reasons:
Production: The plastic bags are made from ethane emissions burned off in the natural gas refinery process. C2H6 (ethane gas) is the only ingredient. Studies in California suggest the ban there is increasing the greenhouse gas effect since the ethane is instead released into the atmosphere and no longer captured to make the bags.
Re-use: It's not even close on the re-use category. I often use the "Shaw's bags," as I call them (no matter what store I got them from), and use them for bathroom trash buckets, poop patrol in my yard, trapping old food before it reaches the barrels outside and or to bring something to my car, to a party, whatever. A second-hand paper bag is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Re-use is the best form of recycling because it requires zero energy.
Solid waste: According to All About Bags, paper bags have much greater mass and weigh five to seven times more than plastic bags, so they add five to seven times more tonnage to the waste stream for municipalities to manage. This, in turn, results in a fivefold to sevenfold increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
The threat to ocean wildlife: Nope. That too is a myth. The very liberal Los Angeles Times has been vigilant about defending the agenda to fix the environmental damages of climate change. That didn't stop them from printing a detailed and interesting story called "The Incredible Plastic Bag."
"Are tens of thousands of marine mammals and seabirds killed each year by plastic bags? No. The Times exposed this as a myth based on a typographical error. The report on which the myth is based referred to discarded nets, not plastic bags. Are plastic bags made of imported oil? No — 85% of the plastic bags used in the United States are made domestically. U.S.-manufactured plastic bags are made of ethane, which is a waste product extracted from domestically produced natural gas. If the ethane is not used to make plastic, it would need to be burned off. Plastic bags are a wonderful use of a waste product."
Innovation in biodegradable plastic bags: Still not sold on plastic bags? They now make biodegradable plastic bags, compostable and which completely breakdown in three to six months.
Remember when plastic bags were introduced to lower the number of trees destroyed for the use of paper bags? Now, dingbat-mania is ruling the moment when we regress ecologically, efficiently and practically.
Why? Because they get bullied by their know-it-all wealthy, bored liberal donors who asked Jeeves, or saw a Mark Ruffalo interview.
And don't get me started with the hemp or canvas reusable bags. They have been proven to be disgusting "Petri dishes" rather than environmentally superior totes. They are too often contaminated with nasty pathogens including Escherichia coli (E-coli) in English- human or animal fecal matter. Yup. This is a fact. In one study, 99% of them test positive for bad bacteria, viruses, including noroviruses and other micro-pathogens that can make us quite ill. In a word - yuck.
But I thought we were trying to lower our carbon (dioxide) footprint? Remind me, what do trees consume? Never mind, I just remembered: carbon dioxide.
They can't help us though, if they are chopped down with gasoline-driven chainsaws, hauled away by gas-guzzling trucks and milled down into pulp (which also requires a lot of energy, by the way) and transformed into Dartmouth's and New Bedford's stupid government-forced paper bag usage.
But what do I know compared to the nine Einsteins in New Bedford and the three in Dartmouth?
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@