A Tale of Two Cities

This week, two major cities took steps to help us clean up our unhealthy lifestyles.

Los Angeles just became the largest city to jump on the sustainability bandwagon, by banning plastic grocery bags.

Not only do discarded bags clog our eco-system, but also the inks and dyes used on many of them are toxic. Over 100 billion bags are tossed in the United States each year, resulting in the environmental equivalent of dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.

L.A. residents and businesses have 16 months to phase in the new plan. Although bringing re-usable bags is ideal, customers will be able to purchase paper bags at checkout, for 10 cents a piece.

While many support this bill, which is already underway in other cities, many are unhappy with the decision.

The detractors feel that is an inconvenience that will not have a significant impact.

Although the bags account to less than 1% of all waste in the area, Los Angeles uses an estimated 2.7 million bags per year.

Across the country on the east coast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has proposed a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz. in an effort to stall the obesity epidemic.

The proposed ban would affect restaurants, sporting and entertainment venues, and fast food franchises. The measure would not affect diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy – based drinks or alcoholic beverages. It would not extend to products sold in grocery or convenience stores.

Many locals are up in arms over the ban, saying that is not the government’s business to get involved in such things.

Mayor Bloomberg has been a major advocate of health issues in the city. His ban of smoking in restaurants and other public places, ban of the use of trans fats, and the requirement that all chain restaurants post calorie counts, were also met with dissent, yet have been initiatives that have been rolled out across the country.

Bloomberg responded to his detractors by saying:

“Oh, come on. We’re not taking anything away. You don’t have to pay attention to the calorie counts. You don’t have to stop smoking. You don’t have to stop buying big bottles of soda.”

It seems that the general population is not willing to do their part in promoting good health and taking care of our environment. The local governments seem to be taking the matters into their own hands.
How much involvement is too much? Do they have bigger issues to work on, or are these initiatives more impactful than people give them credit for?

Join the conversation…

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