Plastic bag bans promote shoplifting & global warming

Reusable grocery bag_thb

by NW Spotlight

Wow, this just keeps getting better and better! OK, we knew that plastic bag bans were good for spreading norovirus and E. coli, and for making shoplifting in Seattle easier, but now we’re hearing that plastic bag bans are good for shoplifting across America AND that plastic bag bans contribute to global warming!

That’s right – earlier this week, Willamette Week asked “Portland in 2011 banned plastic bags in stores. Did we make a huge mistake?”  University of Oregon Professor of Chemistry David Tyler answered “If you’re worried about global warming or the amount of waste going into landfills or the amount of water used to make a bag, then yes.”

Professor Tyler also said that plastic bags “have the lowest carbon footprint, the lowest water use, and the lowest municipal waste [of any bagging option]. A plastic bag in many impact categories is better than a tote bag, it’s better than a paper bag.”

As was noted in a March 2012 Oregon Catalyst article, plastic bags are 100% recyclable and are made in the U.S., using domestic natural gas and they support American jobs.

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Posted by at 06:15 | Posted in Environment, Global Warming, Plastic bags | 485 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • JackLordGod

    What a lot of people miss is that things like the plastic bag ban aren’t really about plastic bags. They are about affecting peoples behavior simply in order to demonstrate the ability to do so. In other words its essentially a power trip.

    When I use that phrase “power trip” I am not using it in the conventional sense. I don’t mean it in the sense of a cabal at the table getting a charge out of affecting peoples behavior. What I mean by it is more broad based. When a liberal walks into a grocery store and sees people with the reusable bags they get a charge out of that. Regardless of the utility of a plastic bag ban, the liberal loves seeing how he as effected societal behavior.

    The most concrete demonstration of this comes in curbside recycling, most notably in New York City some time ago. When it was revealed that all of the trash sorting was pointless as it was all recombined and dumped in the landfill people naturally felt taken advantage of. Clearly those who instituted recycling knew it would all just go into the landfill from the get go, yet they proceeded anyway. Why? Because the purpose of the program wasn’t to recycle anything at all, the purpose was it simply excited the promoters the get everyone doing something they had prescribed. When all of this came to a head in New York they admitted as much, “we can’t stop now, we have finally gotten people to change their behavior”.

    Same thing here. It is not about plastic, pollution, biodegradability or anything like that. It is about the fact that a certain segment of the population will always enjoy telling others what to do. What they are told to do is really a secondary concern. It’s about keeping people busy with pointless tasks simply for the joy of watching them. It has been that way throughout history.

    At its extreme level, this kind of thinking is where projects like the pyramids come from. Or why Stalinist countries tend to excel at gigantic earth moving projects that serve little utility. It all is simply about keeping people busy with mindless tasks they must perform. The purpose is three fold – there is the simply joy in watching others do idiotic work simply because you said so, it keeps them busy so they don’t think about questioning the leadership, it expends human capital thus impoverishing the population and keeping them dependent on government largess.

    Is the plastic bag ban a Stalinist plot or an example of Khmer Rouge earth moving? No, of course not. It does however come from the same mindset. Let’s keep people doing this nonsense task because it feels powerful, even in something as small as this, to have affected human behavior. The purpose or utility of the task is of absolutly no concern to this mindset. Discovering the task is idiotic, purposeless or even totally contrary to its stated goals can stem the spread of it, however reversing it is far more difficult. Don’t look for an end to bag bans any time soon.

  • Randy

    Many poor people must steal in order to eat. These bags help them do so without getting caught. Thus, they are good.

    • Inspector Closecall

      Randy, earn your keep by bag napping. You might begin here:

  • Bob Clark

    I sometimes feel like Oliver in the T.V. sitcom, “Green Acres,” where I try to live much of life using logic, but the people around me in Portland share troublesome myths just as the folks in “Green Acres” share similar bizarre like myths. In one episode, Oliver is in the Country store and one of the folks says, “Arnold and his class are going to Washington D.C. on a field trip.” And the shop owner Mr. Drucker says something like, “I’d like to visit Washington D.C and see Big Bend and the Eiffel Tower.” Oliver says back to Mr. Drucker, “the Eiffel Tower and Big Bend aren’t in Washington D.C.” Then when the T.V news reports back on Arnold’s trip to D.C that night the Eiffel Tower is shown as if in the background.
    For me, it’s like my neighbors drive these prius’ and other electric vehicles, saying, how they are helping the environment. But then I tell them it takes twice as much in carbon dioxide emissions to manufacture an electric car as a conventional gasoline powered car, and the breakeven in CO^2 doesn’t occur until something like 80k total miles driven (whereupon the electric battery pack probably needs replacing, requiring even more carbon dioxide emissions relative to the conventional gasoline powered car.) (per Bjorn Lomberg, scientist writing in the Wall Street Journal.) Then too, I have a few odd birds putting Solar panels on their roofs angled towards the North side of their house because of trees and what not on the other sides of their house.
    Part of me thinks this might be a demonstration of the economic theories of Nobel Laureate James Buchanan’s: Government is a monopoly essentially, and it continually seeks to expand to maximize revenue and its bureaucracies. But then there is also Todd Meyer’s book, Eco-Fad, in which he theorizes things like the plastic bag ban and LEED standards are really a form of conspicuous consumption, the desire for the Jones to show how more pure environmentally than others even if only in perception. (Todd Meyer spoke at Executive Club once, and is a former department head at a Washington state environmental regulatory agency.)

    • DavidAppell

      Bjorn Lomborg is not a scientist. His degrees are in political science, he spent a little time as a statistician, and is now an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School.

  • DavidAppell

    plastic bags are 100% recyclable

    “Overall U.S. post-consumer plastic waste for 2008 was estimated at 33.6 million tons; 2.2 million tons (6.5%) were recycled and 2.6 million tons (7.7%) were burned for energy; 28.9 million tons, or 85.5%, were discarded in landfills.”

  • DavidAppell

    From the Williamette Week article:
    “But if they’re [Portland] worried about plastics in the environment and their effects on wildlife and litter, then no, they didn’t [make a mistake].”

  • Dantheman

    David Tyler is my daughter’s father-in-law. He is a great guy to hang out with -microbrews and scotch (both having significant carbon footprints). I get a good education without the horrendous tuition fees. He really does enjoy the inconsistencies of environmental policies and those who would commute alone in their own cars for 30 minutes everyday and then join forces with the anti-plastic bag gang to feel like they’re champions of the environment.

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