|San Francisco Bag, by Project Green Bag, Flickr|
Why not start my blogging year with a rant? This year, as we think about all the ways in which we'd like to improve ourselves, let's not forget to think about what's good for others and our environment.
A few months ago, Monterey instituted a ban on plastic bags and began charging for paper bags. Since I use reusable bags, I was not inconvenienced in any way, and since I fully support accumulating less waste and using less plastic, I was happy about the ban.
But I often feel like the only one. I routinely hear complaints or heavy sighs when the cashier gently asks if the customer will need a bag. One problem is that the many tourists here aren't familiar with the local laws. The other problem is that people, tourists or not, are pretty shortsighted. It's, "I'm mildly inconvenienced right now!" instead of considering this is better for our community in the long run.
Now the city is upping the cost of paper bags. I just saw a "news" piece on this where they interviewed two local experts on the matter (two very young adults at the mall who were all of 20 years old) who illustrated my point beautifully. Their sentiments: "We already pay so much for the things we buy. Why should we have to pay more just for bags?"
A) You're buying--at the mall anyway--stuff you don't need. You're paying ridiculously low prices on items made in sweatshops by people (often children) who are paid slave wages. And you want to moan about a $.25 bag to hold these items?
B) You're not considering the alternative in this situation: use a reusable shopping bag. It's simple. Buy a bag for about a $1. Take it with you. You'll be surprised by how much you don't give a crap about a $.25 bag when you never have to pay for one.
Now, I'm not criticizing those who haven't made the switch. I understand change happens slowly, and it's hard to remember to bring your bags if you're not in the habit. I'm criticizing the people who complain about the law. This law will hopefully help us all develop better habits, but more importantly, the law is about protecting our city. This city isn't just here for my benefit and convenience. Our roadsides, parks, beaches, schools are for all of us. We must share and we must take responsibility.