Green Goes Radical: Plastic Bag Fees
You can talk about the blatant decimation of this planet until you are blue in the face and some people just won’t listen. You can give them practical statistics neatly laid out in easy to understand blogs, newsprint, radio, billboards, television and just about anything short of tattooing it on their forehead and still, no action.
This is when green needs to go radical.
Some organizations like Greenpeace, PETA, and Rainforest Alliance stop the dialogue and take acton into their own hands which is commendable, but dangerous. Other like minded groups go the route of commerce, attempting to sway consumers to purchase Eco-friendly products and thwart corporate Eco-offenders by way of their bottom line.
Now, it looks like another approach is being taken, punish the pocketbooks of consumers that just won’t heed the warnings.
The subject of plastic bag pollution is now being addressed through legislation that charges the customer who does not bring their own reusable bags and totes to shop with. This may seem harsh, but when it comes to the facts of global plastic bag environmental threats, something has to be done.
Here are a few:
- About 2 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world (Earth Policy Institute)
- Americans use and throw away 100 billion plastic bags every year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil per year to manufacture. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Scientists estimate that every square mile of ocean contains approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it (United Nations Environment Program)
- A single plastic bag can take up 500 years or more to degrade (Measuring biodegradability, ScienceLearn.org)
- 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found (Oceancrusaders)
Depending on the state and the establishment, legislation has or is being passed to charge consumers a fee of up to ten cents per plastic bag. It is the government once again getting involved for the greater good; think cap and trade, seat belts, drunk driving and smoking cigarettes.
A fee of five or ten cents may not seem like much but it could annoy people enough that they end up getting the picture and finally do something to help their environment. It might also become fashionable to sport your own pack of individually designed reusable bags along with water bottles and solar chargers.
In addition, paying the fee and using plastic bags may inadvertently instill an embarrassment tactic, like when someone drives a gas guzzling Hummer or washes their driveway with their garden hose. Maybe these people will be shamed into using their own bags. Overall, whatever works for those slow to act to eventually act accordingly.
Fee Faux Pas
Certain states will allow stores to keep the plastic bag fee and even charge more per bag if they choose. Others only require certain establishments to follow the legislation creating potential loss of business if consumers choose to go elsewhere.
Advocacy groups would rather the fee go to plastic bag cleanup as some stores may take advantage of the fee and manipulate it in ways to their advantage. Even better, the imposed fees don’t even need to be enacted if the federal government would finally call for a nationwide plastic bag ban. Unfortunately, free enterprise does rear its ugly head but citing plastic bags as a health hazard may one day stop their production altogether.
If you have the opportunity, vote “yes” for plastic bag fees in your community. This is another way green goes radical to hopefully stop the naysayers before plastic bag pollution is the least of their future environmental concerns.