Monday, March 10, 2008

Don't Ban Plastic Bags

I was baffled the first time I heard that plastic grocery bags are now supposed to be environmentally unfriendly and that paper is now the eco-alternative. See, some of us (i.e. not the early twentysomethings currently in indoctrination school college) are old enough to remember the days when plastic bags were the environmentally friendly alternative to paper bags. Paper bags were bulky. Those that weren't used for high school textbook covers or parcel wrappings took up space in landfills. They were heavy and supposedly contributed to deforestation and took a long time to biodegrade. Plastic grocery bags were the marvel of new technology to solve environmental problems-- feather-light, compact, cheap, recyclable, and waterproof to boot.

Now there's a movement afoot to convert everyone over to reusable grocery bags made of fabric. That's really cute. As a young single college kid, I used to bring my week's worth of groceries home to my dorm in one very large fabric bag. It was convenient and nice. But try doing that with enough groceries to feed a family of six for two weeks and you'll see the very large flaw in that plan. I buy $600-$1000 in groceries each month, enough to fill dozens of bags. We can't all be college students, nor can those of us with larger families afford the time to go to the market every day or to buy, schlep around, and wash three or four dozen fabric grocery bags.

The next time we all jump on an environmental bandwagon, I sincerely hope we all do our research. Sadly, I fear these trendy things are being fueled by college kids and single former college kids-- and I happen to know just how poorly those kids do their homework. I really wish they'd save their moral outrage for things that really need it.