Bag It

Plastic bag of shrimps

We are on a family vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week. Although we are enjoying the local cuisine (lots of fresh seafood) and trying to avoid some of the local cuisine (hush puppies, cheese grits and fried seafood), we made a trip to the supermarket to stock up on a few basics to have around the house.

I was appalled as we left Harris Teeter yesterday with 4 plastic bags worth of groceries: 1 bag contained a small jug of laundry detergent and a container of yogurt, another had some ice cream and frozen fruit for smoothies, one was filled with a carton of orange juice, and the last contained a box of green tea.

Could that not fit into one bag? Did we really need to place a small item like teabags into it’s own private bag?

Us New Yorkers were appalled: the Floridians, not so much.

Relief came in the form of an article, outlining the proposed plastic bag laws back home.

New York legislators are proposing a 10-cent surcharge for each plastic bag used by consumers at retail establishments. A charge may also be levied for paper bags as well.

New Yorkers currently use about 5.2 million bags per year, at a cost of $10 million dollars for the city to transport them to landfills in other states.

Similar bills in other cities have been met with great success, including Washington D.C. whose use of plastic bags declined 60% and Los Angeles, who has seen a whopping 95% decline in the use of plastic bags.

Many of the stores where I shop at home incentivize customers to bring their own reusable cloth bags by offering bag credits, and weekly raffles. Some, such as Whole Foods Market do not even offer plastic bags, and use recycled paper bags for patrons who do not have their own.

Hopefully, plastic shopping bags will go the way of the cassette tape, and become something that our grandchildren will find unfathomable.

As one environmentalist summed it up so eloquently. “ Only vampires should be that thin, and last hundreds of years!”

photo: Glasshouse Images

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One Response to “Bag It”

  1. Grady W. George Says:

    The system of returning plastic bags to a retail location is preferable to collecting plastic bags as part of the DSNY mixed recycling collection because it ensures the clean stream that is required to effectively recycle plastic bags and film. If bags were mixed together with recyclable food packaging, the organic material contained on those recyclables would contaminate the bags.

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