That’s right: I’m not sure. In the Boston area, Cambridge has recently banned plastic shopping bags. You can pay 10 cents to get a paper or compostable bag. Somerville will institute its own ban in a few months. Last weekend, I was at a Korean place in Somerville and needed several leftover containers. The waiter dropped them in a pile on my table and informed me the city would not allow him to give me a bag. There were so many things wrong with this scenario: the big pile of styrofoam containers, the fact that the ban had not taken effect in the city we were in, the lack of any alternative offering, the lack of knowledge regarding the ability to pay a surcharge and receive a bag, the lack of any information about where the 10 cents goes… it just made me kind of annoyed, and as a pretty devout environmentalist, if I’m annoyed about this, I can only imagine the backlash among others.
I should note that I personally always bring my own bags for groceries, and the few bags I pick up elsewhere I use for trash can liners. I have not thrown out or “recycled” plastic bags in over a decade. So if totally banned, I will actually have to start buying bags for trash.
So I thought I’d ask you all what you think. I since read an interesting piece in the New Yorker
which more or less casts it as a litter problem (very different from an environmental problem).
Is this the place to focus our collective energy? Are the returns great enough to justify a lot of outrage which will be directed to environmentalists? Should we be concentrating on eating less meat and/or driving less which are major fossil fuel use factors?