Today was the first time since California’s plastic grocery bag ban came into affect that I remembered to take into the store my canvas shopping bags.
Hardly a decent subject for a blog post except the law is a clusterfuck. Yes, I mean it exactly as I said it and I learned that word many years ago from an asshole that enjoyed sending abusive emails to anyone that he took a dislike to.
Since the measure that was voted on that won majority was a law that had already been passed and signed by Governor Jerry Brown it meant that it came into immediate effect. I had expected it to require signing off first and didn’t know that they had already passed and this was a measure to ratify it by popular vote because a group had forced a stay of the law.
The first time I went into a grocery store after the law had changed was the Saturday after the vote, The stores had only a few of the ‘allowed’ plastic bags available and it was a culture shock for many. I was not in at a busy time so I didn’t witness the ire of angry seniors.
Today in two different stores I watched angry senior citizens disgusted that they were being charged not only for plastic bags but the paper bags that had preciously been free.
I used to always get paper bags because I could fill them with the shreddings from the shredder to avoid all those annoying little shreddings flying in the wind when the recycling is collected or to find them all over around the bin when the dumpster divers start digging through the bin. Now I guess there will be lots of shredding everyone, but I digress.
I bought four canvas bags back when I heard rumblings of a plastic bag ban and let’s face it, when one jurisdiction in California like Los Angeles or San Francisco pass local measures eventually every county and City ends up being coerced into doing the same. I bought two that looked huge in the photo and there was either a Flowered design on them or a camouflaged design, being a guy I went for the more masculine design. I also purchased two plain white canvas grocery bags from a different source. Thankfully I did, the camouflage patterned bags are pitifully small the white canvas one are much bigger and can get a decent amount of produce and groceries in.
Sure it’s 10 cents for a ‘reusable plastic bag’ and 10 cents is not really much, it’s really a tax on the customer, but having used such bags in the past in the UK we found that the bags were just as susceptible to splitting when a box or something with a sharp edge slid against it and the one bag I did buy the previous week when I was caught out is not as sturdy as the reusable plastic bags that were free back in the 80’s and 90’s. In fact I gave the bag to a friend who said that the handle snapped when they went grocery shopping and they knew that I didn’t have much in my and they only had normal groceries.
I have seen people take their groceries out to their vehicles without being bagged and then they ‘handball’ their groceries into the trunk of their vehicle or into tubs in the bed of their truck. The most overwhelming thing I saw today was angry and irritated Senior Citizens having to pay for paper bags that were always free before.
Now why is the law a clusterfuck?
The law in itself was created by people that couldn’t see further than the end of their SJW Environmentalist noses. The law is unfair to those that can least afford to spend 10 cents bag.
It also turns a free brown paper bag made from ‘recycled’ paper that is going to be recycled again are now subject under this law to the 10 cent charge. Instantly these become a charged for item that for generations has been a free bag. The reasoning given by the moron’s that created this law is that fish, birds and wildlife are eating plastic bags and it’s Killing wildlife. I don’t think recycled brown paper bags should ever have been included in this law and it’s identifying the law as purely something that created by some fucked up pile of fecal matter, quite possibly in the Bay Area who is determined that everyone should be forced to use canvas or cotton bags.
Why did they include a bag that was then recycled and even if it ended up in land fill it’s brown paper and breaks down when wet and is not any more of an issue for the environment than the paper that they wrote their plastic bag law (that encompasses and penalizes the use of paper bags).
Nobody disagrees that the use once plastic grocery bags were bad but why punish the public for the retailer, after all for decades, we all used paper bags until the retailers switched to plastic bags and then it was the refuse collection companies that wouldn’t accept them for recycling even though the plastic can be recycled and reused. My local refuse company has only just started including the ‘harder to recycle’ plastics such as polyethylene (carrier bags) and polystyrene (styrofoam), both of which take up a lot of space for very little recycling return. In fact what will happen pretty soon is that the carrier bags that were being recycled to make the ‘long life reusable’ plastic grocery bags will not be available and the longer life ones will cost more to produce, expect that cost to be passed onto the customer.
You may say that the stores absorbed the cost of the one use bags but the cost of these bags in comparison are negligible, there is more plastic, more chance of these multiple use bags ending up in landfill and while it may take an incredibly long time for these bags to break down it will take even longer for the reusable bags to break down. Back in the 80’s in the UK 7-Eleven stores used multiple use, bio-degradeable bags, and carried the cost of these bags but the important factor was that if they ended up in landfill they would break down in much less time.
Most, if not all, of the long life bags reusable bags being sold for 10 cents each are merely recycleable and we have to remember that those that would throw out plastic bags will probably throw out the long-life bags too and they won’t be going to land fill, they don’t care if the bags could be used in the store again to take home your groceries and could be used “up to” 150 times or so depending on the store though we know that is like the cable companies “up to” 50 Mbps internet service that many times is a fraction of that.
So yes, the law is badly formed, it is not helping the environment, won’t help the fish, birds and other wild life — it will take a long time before we see any impact there — and don’t do squat except for generate a tax for the use of grocery bags.
Sure it will stop much of the single use bags flying in the wind down roads and sure eventually fish won’t be eating flakes of broken down plastic bags that get into the oceans and rivers but remember that it will take decades before any impact is seen.
Furthermore, since much of the granular plastics in the oceans is from non-USA origins and it is thicker plastics that the fish have been nibbling on it means that the whole issue is not really going to go away unless the whole world participates and not just a few states or countries.
Surely a push away from any plastic bags and the offering of cardboard boxes for large purchasers – allowing the reuse of cardboard used to bring produce into the stores — true recycling — that would end up going to recycle or waste dumps anyway and offering a lower price for reusable canvas bags instead of the $2-10 that stores are using and the sudden surge of “insulated” grocery bags that hold maybe one or two items. Imagine if they made a necessity for people to use such things and stop charging for brown paper grocery sacks – because they are highly recycleable – then we will see an impact.
All this law has done is tax the grocery buyer and punish them for not having canvas bags and for this it should be looked at again by California and fixed to eventually eradicate the any plastic grocery bags and turn things back to the 40’s and 50’s etc. I remember when I grew up in the UK going to the store with my mum and we always had paper grocery bags until the grocery stores eradicated them and switched to plastic, surely we should push to switch back to purely paper bags that are free rather than charging 10 cents for them and banish the plastic bags permanently and offer customers the use of cardboard boxes for some of their groceries**.
** Costco should be congratulated for only supplying groceries in cardboard boxes that comes from the bulk-supply packaging of products they sell and don’t offer plastic or paper sacks at all for purchases.