The News Tribune logo

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Better Living Through Chemicals?

Or the View From My Porch

Our neighbors to the North in Seattle are attempting to make an impact on the environment by adding a tax to the ubiquitous plastic bags consumers get from stores. If the Seattle City Council passes the measure it will go into effect January 1, 2009 and Seattle will join San Francisco and Boston in attempting to reduce landfill, hazards to nature and encourage the use of consumer owned cloth bags. In addition, the measure seeks to ban the use of plastic fast food containers at the same time and plastic meat trays in the future.

The Seattle P-I laments that the twenty cent tax on a bag will add $2.00-$4.00 to a grocery bill and put an unbearable burden on consumers. As one who regularly shops for a family that varies between six and seven in number, the thought of ten to twenty bags in my grocery cart is a bit overwhelming. Of course, for some long time we have used cloth bags for which grocers give a five cent credit. The bags soon pay for themselves and help the environment.

So who is behind the fear mongering against this measure? The American Chemistry Council, which is sponsoring commercials opposing the measure. Care to hazard a guess as to this council’s members? Familiar names such as Mobil, Exxon, and Dow. Many of the same folks who also have a vested interest in keeping us embroiled in the Middle East. And these folks are interested in seeing that grocers continue to buy huge amounts of plastic bags and plastic food containers from them as though the consumption of oil and plastic was likely to end anytime soon.

Hopefully Tacoma and Pierce County are paying attention to what Seattle is attempting to do and that in the not-too-distant future; Grit City can be a plastic bag-free city.

There are folks who believe that receiving a free plastic bag or container with a purchase is somehow tied to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, but no such right exists. To those of you who rile against change, spend eighty-nine cents on a reusable cloth bag and feel the smugness of having it quickly pay for itself or else be willing to pony up the twenty cents for the privilege—not right—of carrying your purchase home in a plastic bag. Using a cloth bag is an easy way for each and every American to fight the War on Terror on the home-front. When we keep money out of the hands of the oil industry we also keep it out of the hands of those who would destroy us. When you use a plastic bag, Bin Laden carries your groceries.


Lorraine Hart said...

The turtle picture breaks my heart Stephanie. I'm all for the great cloth bags available.

All my life I will keep flashing back to that scene in "The Graduate" where Dustin Hoffman is told that the future is in "Plastics!" and, every time, I shiver at its echo.

I'm shaking my head that we're still at this stage of the discussion, forty years after we began.

Kim Thompson said...

Oh, the poor honu, and the other creatures eating this poison in the sea and on the land.

Stephanie Frieze said...

It is not like the plastics or oil industries are endanger of going out of business anytime soon. They are trying to undermine a measure that will help the environment because they want to keep selling plactic bags. I'm sure plenty of plastic will continue to comsumed. Corporations are so greedy by and large.