I’ve lived here for decades and have rarely seen plastic bags in our environment. Given all the other plastic packaging and elements in everything we use, this new policy seems absurd.
Look at all the other “single-use” plastics: all laundry and cosmetic products, pharmacy containers, medical devices, automotive parts and containers, even the hypodermics used for COVID vaccinations. Almost 40 percent of all cars are made from plastics. What would you replace all these plastics with, glass, paper, metal, or cloth?
I guess they want us to use cloth or paper bags. Remember that cloth bags were banned during COVID for being infectious and transmitting germs. According to testimony before the House Fish & Wildlife Committee, the thin plastic bags are actually on the whole better for the environment than the alternatives. “They require fewer resources to produce, they’re domestically manufactured, the vast majority of Americans regularly reuse them, most often as trash can liners or to pick up waste.”
The Danish government recently did a study about cloth bags that took into account environmental impacts beyond simply greenhouse gas emissions, including water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution. These factors make cloth bags even worse than plastic. They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment. That’s once a week for 385 years.
We know that banning thin plastic bags will generate more greenhouse gas emissions, will not do much if anything to reduce litter and landfill waste, and will put Americans, who do manufacture thin grocery bags but don’t manufacture the heavier “reusable” plastic and cloth textile bags, out of work in favor of Asian manufacturers, who are the overwhelming source of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean.
Ed Forde lives in Valdez.