Town Crier: Beat plastic bag ban
by Brian Williams
Jun 08, 2012 | 3763 views | 17 17 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Having been back in Tracy for a few weeks, it was time to go see the extended family. The unseasonably warm weather was nice, so we jumped in the car and headed to San Jose.

We arrived at my brother’s house, and it wasn’t long until my daughter and my niece hit me up for a trip for some ice cream. My fiancée and I needed to pick up a few items anyway, so we jumped in the car and headed to the local supermarket.

As we walked into the store, my niece asked, “Did you bring any bags?” to which I replied, “Bags?” She followed, “Yes, remember we don’t have plastic bags in San Jose.”

I let out an audible sigh of frustration, remembering that San Jose initiated a ban on store-supplied bagged groceries. In a bit of a panic on what options I had to get my goods from the store to my car, I thought quickly. My first option was that I could purchase paper bags from the store at 10 cents each. Or I could opt for a reusable bag for a couple bucks.

I pondered those options while we filled our basket at the store. Rounding the last aisle, we found ourselves in the produce section. And what a beautiful sight it was. Not necessarily the many fruits and veggies on display, but what caught my eye were the many visible rolls of plastic bags there for the taking.

I quickly bagged a few veggies and unrolled a half-dozen produce bags and tossed them in our cart and headed to the check out.

Ringing up our purchases, our checker asked, “Do you need to buy bags?” I happily answered, “Oh no, I got bags,” handing him my unused produce bags.

At this point, my extremely embarrassed teenage daughter and niece headed for the exit.

With my work-around intact, I pushed our cart of groceries out to the car, imagining the scorn the pro-bag-banning movement would feel about this environmentally destructive decision of mine.

Many arguments have been made about the waste caused by plastic bags. They don’t biodegrade, cause a strain on recycling, end up in our waterways, crowd landfills and often simply end up as manmade tumbleweeds rolling across the landscape.

I am all for a protecting the environment, I wonder if banning the convenience we have relied on for the past 60 years or so is the best use of our efforts.

One important question in the great bag ban debate should be, “Is the bag the issue, or is our inability to properly dispose of the bag the problem?”

Growing up, my dad imparted me with two valuable lessons: to close the door after you enter or exit the house, and to put my trash in the trash can. Granted, it took about 25 years for his effort to pay off, but as a father myself, I understand his passion.

Littering is a societal issue facing many communities. Plastic bags, bottles, fast-food and candy wrappers, cigarettes, gum and other papers are tossed on and around our streets by the millions, instead of simply being put properly in the trash.

Whether it’s laziness, a lack of community pride, arrogance or ignorance, so many of us chose to simply throw our garbage out of windows, out of our boats or onto the street, not caring about the effects.

In my view, we can take the simple approach of banning the convenience of bags, or we can take a hard stand against those who litter our community with hefty fines.

While many will still clamor for a ban on bags as they attempt to save the Earth, my dad and I would be happy to just see the trash end up in the can.

• Brian Williams first moved to Tracy in 1993 and returned to town in 2012 after a brief hiatus in Dublin. He can be reached at briansbrain2010@gmail.com.
Comments
(17)
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LiveLoveLearnLaugh123
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June 09, 2012
Maybe it's best to look at this ban as how it will be good for the future generation instead of the now. Our children will be better off bringing in reusable bags instead of the unfortunate circumstance of having littering problems via laziness and being unconcerned. This technological, social media focused generation are so self absorbed that this type of ban allows a small step to help our world while they are concentrating on instantly gratifying their thirst to be socially accepted via Facebook or Google . Forgetfullness happens, but to blame a ban over it is silly. Furthermore, thinking that you outsmarted a system only shows the type of character you are. Let's lead by a good example, not deceitfulness.
Sneaky
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June 09, 2012
I am not sold on this ban being all that good for future generations. If suddenly all the weeping about how we are supposedly killing the Earth would end due to a plastic bag ban I would be all for it. Alas, I suspect the greenies will go right no crying that the sky is falling no matter how many more intrusive regulations they manage to get enacted. They are simply the sort of folks that will never be satisfied. Nor do I think the Earths supposed environmental issues will all disappear due to the bag ban.

The current generation of youth does not strike me as all that self absorbed. Technology absorbed, yes. That is another matter though. I work with quite a few 20 somethings and they are on the whole more interested in helping others than my generation was. In fact on that I know just left a very good paying medical device engineering job to go to India for 6 months to help design low cost infant health care items for folks who cant normally afford them.

There is nothing decietful in the authors actions. He grabbed some produce bags and used them right out in the open. He didnt try to decieve anybody.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 09, 2012
"The type of character you are."

Interestin.

Do ya mean th type of character that points out how stupid a system can be whair it's so easy ta get around it or what?

It's one thang ta skirt a system that don't work an another ta point out it's obvious discrepancies an stupidities ta th witnessin world world.

If he was really skirtin th system, which seems ta be th negative connotation yer labelin him with by yer comment, it would be kinda stupid fer him ta tell everyone about it in public.

It seems obvious ta me ya don't exactly under satire as ya pass judgment on people so freely here.

I do agree, "let's lead by good example." But leadin by a good example also means that ya proba, don't ya thank?

Ya had me with ya right until ya wrote th words after "furthermore" an then ya lost me on th whole thang.

I do agree with ya on yer literin problem but do ya have any statistical an provable data ta back up yer statement that our children will be better off bringin in reusable bags?

Sorry friend but I'd like ta borrow yer crystal ball on that cus I can't see inta th future ta know what it holds. Many a good thang has tarned out ta ba bad.

Fer one, that technological, social media focused generation that's so self absorbed in it, apparently like yerself or ya wouldn't debase yerself by usin it ta tell it ta us other technological, social media focused people readin what ya have posted.

It's ok ta have an opinion an ok ta express it as an opinion, but predictin th future an judgin others that may have a different view on thangs ain't within yer authority or abilities ta do so. Those abilities rest with someone much higher than humanity.
Sneaky
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June 09, 2012
You also say, "lets lead by good example". That is what this guy did. The government created a problem. Instead of giving in and paying his hard earned money for paper bags or for a resusable bag that would just get buried in his trunk somewhere and never used again he came up with a creative solution to the problem. We need more folks like this.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 09, 2012
Dang it Sneaky, ya sneaked right in thair an stole my thunder. I agree.

What ya have written exactly th mentality I attempt with my apparently not so humorous piece on how this historically has manifested itself fer th last 80 years or so.

Paper was th great evil. Now it's bacteria in reusable bags cus people don't clean em or th clorox water they clean em with gettin inta th ecosystem ta end up doin us all in.

Seems thair are endless thangs ta worry about an every time man comes up with that sure fire solution it backfires an somehow makes thangs worse.

Is th weather cold enough fer ya? Well wait, it'll get warmer. What's that, too warm fer ya? Well it will cool off this winter. Seems humans are never quite satisfied an have ta carp about somethin.
victor_jm
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June 12, 2012
"It's ok ta have an opinion an ok ta express it as an opinion, but predictin th future an judgin others that may have a different view on thangs ain't within yer authority or abilities ta do so. Those abilities rest with someone much higher than humanity."

This is balderdash! The caveat the-above writer advises another writer to respect is violated by this rambler. Too much rambling leads to contradiction.

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 12, 2012
victor_jm

Only ta those who can't comprehend it.
backinblack
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June 08, 2012
"The problem is idiots who litter."

Big brother is watching, shame on you.
Sneaky
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June 08, 2012
This is the first sane article that I have read in a long, long time. Thanks for telling it like it is. The bags are not the problem. The problem is idiots who litter. Nice solution too, if I am ever trapped in a city without bags that is exactly what I will do.
Citizensheep
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June 08, 2012
O(m)G. Thought Ornley had left the building...

eyes glass over at the droning lines of snaggle-tooth ranting.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 09, 2012
So glad ya didn't bleat yerself ta death when ya nodded of. :)
princesaportuguese
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June 08, 2012
Plastic bag bans are bad fohttp://www.scribd.com/doc/72052022/Angela-Logomasini-Plastic-Bag-Bans-Are-Bad-for-the-Environment-WebMemor the environment
princesaportuguese
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June 08, 2012
Plastic Bag bans are bad for the environment

http://www.scribd.com/doc/72052022/Angela-Logomasini-Plastic-Bag-Bans-Are-Bad-for-the-Environment-WebMemo
FatGuy
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June 08, 2012
And the paper bags were good for Saints fans to put over their heads back in the day, though they probably want to pull them out again.

Fiance???!!!
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 08, 2012
Brian

Above all I want ta thank ya an say God Bless ya fer this article. Ya literally turned an otherwise mentally gloomy day inta one of shinin sunshine coupled with th singin of song birds. In short, ya made my day.

I's also like ta say yer a bloomin genius in that I wouldn't have thought of yer wonderful solution ta th problem in a million years.

What can I say but it was not only entertainin but beautifully thought out an executed.

Been followin this grocery bag problem fer quite some time.

Believe it or not, at one time ya provided yer own sacks ta fetch yer groceries an if ya lived in town ya made yer own sacks out of cloth.

It was inconvenient, not ta mention unsanitary an someone came up with th paper sack. Had all sorts of wonderful uses. Ya could line yer trash can with it, reuse it as a bag fer other thangs ya wanted to store or transport somewhere, pack yer work or school lunch in or even cover yer books with. It also made a fine torch at th end of a bamboo stick ya could light an singe th wings off yaller-jackets so ya didn't get stung tryin ta remove em. Just had ta be careful ya didn't like th barn or house on fire.

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 08, 2012
Then too, it was good fer th paper industries an those workers that were hired in order ta make em or th equipment used ta make em.

Then someone said, "Ya know, we're wastin all them thair trees an th pollution caused by makin paper is damagin thangs, why not make em out of plastic. Besides, plastic is cheaper an more sanitary than either cloth or paper."

So th term ya use ta hear everywhere but is now changin ta somethang else, "Paper or plastic" came into existence.

Gradually, over time, people made th second migration ta plastic, th first being from cloth or boxes made of wood, ta paper bags an cardboard boxes.

An it was about time that some bright person came up with individual packaging, again out of plastic, instead of byin yer product from bins whair ya chose th quantity ya wanted instead of bein forced ta buy too little or too much of what ya needed ta stock on yer home shelves.

Th idear here was ta make it more convenient fer th shopper, an cheaper fer th store keeper ta stock an price th merchandise. What it did was drive up th cost of th commodity as not it was individually packaged an produced more in th way of waste as that packagin was thrown away.

If th packagin was glass, like a mayonnaise bottle, ya could recycle it an reuse it fer other thangs, like yer canned pickles or yer moonshine. But generally speakin that too ended up in th landfill an until people started recyclin it, stayed as glass in th ground fer a long long time.

It was convenient an it produced jobs, jobs fer th people that made th contraptions that made th glass an those who used those contraptions ta package stuff in it.

It was also a delight fer us kids that would go down ta th dump with our forked sling shots, can't call em what we really called em cus's it's no longer politically correct an offensive ta some people, an rightly so when th word is used incorrectly th way it often times is taday.

We use ta set up th cans an th glass bottles an have a wonderful time all day knockin em down. An, come ta thank about it, it was probably good fer th ecology in that it broke th glass down inta smaller pieces so eventually it would return ta th ground as sand eons of years from now.

Th end result? Everyone was happy, at least fer awhile. Look at all th jobs an industry it helped ta create. Why all them little kids could go ta school ta have thair little heads packed with all th knowledge necessary fer em ta fix everythang wrong with th world.

Yep, thangs were good. America was prosperous an seeminly had a bright future.

Then, seeminly overnight, someone said, "Ya know, all them thair plastic bags don't deteriorate like paper, are made from crude oil an are endin up in our landfills or, worse yet, in our lakes, streams an oceans killin our fish an other wildlife. We gotta do somethang about it."

Then some bright feller said, "I know, we can make our customers use cloth sacks an if they don't have em we can either tax em or sell em to em."

So, once again we tarned th corner of civilized advancement an took one giant step back inta history an started doin thangs th way many of our forefathers did. Yep, now th cloth bag is back in vogue an all th problems that went along with it.

An in that transisition what else happened? Why th people that made those plastic an paper bags don't have jobs anymore. Furthermore th equipment, along with th maintenance of that equipment, ain't needed any more so th people that did those thangs ta make a maintain em don't have jobs any more.

Now th people are loosin thair jobs, thair homes, thair kids don't get th education they need an it's damn difficult fer a whole lot of folks ta make ends meet.

Not ta worry though, those people now live on unemployment an are lookin fer work. That's good. An those of us that have jobs? Well we just knuckle under an tax ourselves more so we can help those people out. Why it's th Christian thang ta do ain't it?

Yessirree Bob, we shore are makin progress ain't we?

Oh wsit, I almost plum fergot. Remember that sanitation thang I mentioned about paper an plastic sacks. Well we don't got that no more with reusable cloth sacks now do we?

Don't know if ya watch matters of health on it but a whole host of diseases have resurfaced an have been traced to what? You betchum, th cloth grocery sacks.

Seems our society is too lazy ta take th time an waste th water an soap necessary ta wash these sacks after each use. Remember now, we don't want ta waste or pollute water now do we?

Anyway, seems all them juices frum th raw meats, fruits an veggies ya carry home in those bags make a dandy culture ta grow th bacteria that gets on yer food an poisons you an yer family.

Yep, ya can wash em an bleach em with Clorox ta kill that stuff but most folks simply don't do it an no one really wants all that stuff runnin inta our water supply.

Oh well, fortunately we got lots of bright doctors an nurses ta help those people who can't really afford ta pay fer those services so th government has ta make up th difference an tax th bejeebers outa th folks that are fortunate enough ta still have jobs so someone can pay th bill.

Not ta worry though, th government's got lots of money although fer some reason no one can quite explain whair they get it frum. I guess it's selective memory denial that causes that. Might be caused from somethin they ate out of one of them cloth grocery sacks.

Oh well, I am shore thair's an answer out thair somewhere if we only search fer it. Say, wonder what th good book has ta say about all of it?

Well that's all fer now, got some serious readin ta do.

Good day ta ya

OG.
victor_jm
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June 08, 2012
I have read many articles by this author and I have never thought of him as being "thoughtful," but rather self-centered and extremely biased.

I don't think banning plastic bags is about saving the earth; it isn't why I use canvas bags.

Ornley, you are rambling. What is your point?


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