What’s in YOUR reusuable shopping bag?

No, I don’t mean the local, organically grown veggies and free range lamb chops. I mean the bag itself.

The controversy about the Seattle plastic bag tax is growing, and increasingly it’s being pitched in terms of Evil Industry vs. Moms. I challenge the proponents of the bag tax fee to tell me you’ve considered these questions:

Updated 2008.08.17: Thanks to the WSB reader who corrected my misreading of the Seattle bag fee law. The fee does apply to paper sacks, also. (My terminology was also corrected…it’s not a tax, but a fee.) I’m still opposed but keep those facts comin’, folks. 😀

1. Why won’t shoppers just switch to paper, which are now used only 1/4 as much as plastic, but take 4 times the landfill space and energy to produce?

2. The reusable bags offered by the stores that middle to low income people shop are most likely produced in China. Is that a problem for you? You know, political prisoner labor and all.

3. What is the bag made out of? Organic cotton, grown within 100 miles? Recycled materials? What percentage? What materials? What will be going into the landfill when the reusable bag is tossed out?

4. Is your bag biodegradable? Good for you, except remember that NOTHING biodegrades in modern landfills. Perhaps it would be more useful, tho’ far more difficult, to consider how landfills could be redesigned?

4. The bag WILL eventually end up in the landfill. When it does, how many plastic bags will it have replaced, and what is the net gain? Or loss. Will it have really been worth the effort?

I’m not an evil empire. I work for myself, from home, drive fewer than 5K miles a year, in a small Toyota car. My product is a service, so involves no bagging. I don’t have any relatives in the grocery biz. I like moms, apple pie, and kids just fine. Some more than others, but still. Oh, and I’m so liberal that I actually expect to have to pay taxes to have things like roads, schools, libraries, police, fire protection, and so on.

And, yet, I think the bag tax is a good case of Right Problem, Wrong Solution.


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