Why bag bans are wrong!
It doesn’t take much thought to understand the negative sides to bag bans.
Bag bans are much more damaging than just a misled city council pushing a personal agenda. These councils mislead their citizens, so the board members feel warm and fuzzy. Bag bans set a terrible example of how misguided politicians can disrupt and infuriate their citizens. Here are some of the top reasons why bag bans are wrong, and why we work to oppose them:
- Bag bans are based on lies, distortions, myths, and half-truths
If bag bans based on real evidence, there would be a significant and direct link between plastic shopping bags and severe environmental damage. The public would be supporting bag bans, and they likely wouldn’t even be needed. Any review, of the claim,s reveals insufficient evidence, stretched or non-existent statistics, and completely illogical conclusions. Bag bans use emotional statements and pleas, not logic. Some people believe those things, and choose not to use plastic bags, which is fine for them. The government should not pass laws based on shoddy and pathetic arguments.
- Bag bans impose on the liberties and freedoms
The government should never carelessly remove a citizen’s liberty or mandate unproven regulations on businesses. In the case of bag bans, the government has stepped in and stopped companies from offering a free product to customers. Preventing customers from receiving a free service that they appreciate, is an overstep. It is nearly impossible to shop and transport items without some container. Mandating citizens into spending money and operating in a way that they did not choose previously is an overreach. Unwarranted government intrusion into business practices that removes a benefit already enjoyed by citizens
- City councils are deciding conveniences.
Bag bans set a very scary precedent by now stating what particular use of an object is deemed “worthy” in their eyes. They are deeming that a citizen may use a plastic bag for one purpose (i.e.: a garbage can liner) but not another (transporting items). This overreach opens the door to the city government now going through all aspects of citizen’s lives to determine acceptable uses for particular objects, based on how they feel about the material in that object or whether someone feels it isn’t that hard for people to give it up. Styrofoam cups? Unworthy, bring your own. Straws? Unworthy, drink from the cup. Napkins? Unworthy, bring a handkerchief. Plastic water bottles? Unworthy, drink from the tap. Plastic garbage bags? Unworthy. Compost and use newspaper instead.
- What else is “bad for the environment”? Why just one type of bag?
The argument that virtually everything that humans make and use is “bad for our environment,” or at least “unnatural.” Why is one particular application of one particular item being singled out and demonized?
- City councils have begun the practice of fixing minimum pricing.
Fixing minimum pricing sets a dangerous precedent: The city council has now set a “minimum price” for an object (a paper bag). In their zeal to pass the law, they purposely avoided making the paper bag charge a “tax” because the citizens would then have to approve it. Public servants thought their activity is concealed by instituting a “minimum fee” for the paper bag. (This also doubles as a bribe to the stores to not oppose bag bans as the stores can now pocket the money.) Government officials have now introduced a new concept that is more dangerous than their plastic bag ban itself: price fixing. Think of any other item that has a “minimum price”? And notice the odd conclusion: They have not banned paper bags, but have set a “minimum price” on them to avoid people who previously received free plastic bags from just changing over to paper bags. A city council is shouting “We are going to force you to pay for paper bags now because we want you to stop getting free bags and adopt a particular lifestyle that we choose for you.” They don’t have any arguments against paper bags, they just don’t want you to use them!
- City councils are burdening businesses with needless accounting
Most bag bans allow for sales of paper bags at minimum fees. They also include mandatory accounting for the sales of paper bags for a minimum of 3 years, and the business must be ready at any time for an inspection of those records. What a senseless, needless, burden on all businesses!
- Bag bans do not take into account the multiple reuses of “Single Use” bags
Supporters of a bag ban continuously label the bags “single-use” bags. What exactly is single-use? Why do people stockpile plastic grocery bags if they had no other purpose? Why do places like IKEA, and other stores, sell storage containers mainly made for reusing plastic bags?
The irony is that plastic grocery bags are probably one of the MOST REUSED items that we bring into our homes.
- Bag bans punish everyone for the bad behavior of a few
Plastic bags floating in creeks, storm drains, and into the ocean is bad. Why is the majority blamed and held accountable for the bad behavior of a few? Even if the claims of the number of plastic bags washing into waterways were right, it represents only 1 out of every 3,000 bags at most. So 2,999 people are blamed for the bad behavior of one person (or of the incompetency of the garbage company)? This example is equivalent to banning ALL cars in the city. Then one year after banning all automobiles from the city, and recognizing that instances of cars parking in front of fire hydrants fell by 100%.
- Plastic bags are an insignificant portion of total waste
Ever weigh a plastic grocery bag? They are purposely made as thinly as possible to carry as much as possible. They weigh only about 1/4 of an ounce each or 1-1/2 sheets of paper. All of this regulation, confusion, inconvenience, and effort over a one-quarter ounce piece of plastic? Even if you used 8-9 bags per week (as is claimed by the bag ban proponents), that is barely over 2 ounces of plastic! What does your garbage weigh that you take out to the curb?
- Bag bans are applied unfairly and without logic
Why is it that the proponents claim plastic bags are clogging our drains, streams, and oceans, yet they overlook the MILLIONS of newspaper plastic bags that are thrown down into our driveways and gutters every year? Newspaper companies wrap their daily rag in plastic bags and throw them down just feet from storm drains. All because the newspaper carriers won’t deliver the papers to our doorsteps, where they and we would be out of the rain! Those VERY SAME NEWSPAPERS write op-ed pieces stating how the rest of us should be banned from getting plastic bags at the store.
Why are there exceptions for certain organizations, such as charities that deal with collecting items to resell? Are their plastic bags somehow “holier” than ours? Are their bags somehow less destructive to the environment? Ask a city considering a bag ban why they exempt these organizations, and they fumble around and mumble guessing that it must be something about them recycling enough material that they should not be punished. Elected officials copy the bag ban from another city without question.
- Bag bans have no measurement of success
Bag bans never promise anything. There is no analysis, no review, and no sign of anything except inconvenience. Reports come out a year later stating that there was a reduction in the number of bags cleaned up from drains.
Did you not ban EVERYONE from their free choice to use a plastic bag? What other conclusion is possible? An entire city struggles with a bag ban so city workers can clean up a few bags. What is the cost of man hours and effort of a minuscule number of bags being cleaned up? Estimates indicate it costs the people of the city about $15,000 in time and effort for every bag.
- Cities are spending millions on bag bans
Implementation causes the city to prepare information, pamphlets, posters, packages, training material, and educational sessions for businesses as they roll out a ban. Examine a town’s website that has instituted a bag ban. You may find extensive media packages that the city will send out to a business that educates on how to “implement the changes” (that a company must comply with…) of the bag ban.
Add to that specific call-in numbers, staff who are trained to respond to questions and inquiries, as well as city employees who must investigate claims and prosecute businesses for not following the ordinance.
The City of San Jose, California set aside over $700,000 to fund a bag ban creating an additional burden on many of its agencies. The total cost is much higher. Economically hurting cities need to raise taxes and are instead cutting services. Silly laws are being passed that cost the city more money just to stop their citizens from receiving a free service that they had enjoyed previously.
- Cities could solve the supposed problems for far less than educating the enforcers and implementing a new law
What is overlooked with plastic bag bans is that the ban never addresses the root issue. Cities don’t ask where the plastic bags are coming from, or consider restrictions on vehicles that don’t secure transported waste. Consider if a municipality spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, of taxpayer money to employ just one or two people who had a full-time job of picking up discarded plastic bags? Why not enforce the littering laws. Government agencies don’t want to solve the problem; they just want to ban the freedom to choose.
- Reusable bags have been in existence prior to bag bans
Bag bans are not about people who want to use reusable bags. Bag bans are designed to hinder people of having the freedom to use a plastic bag.
BTW: Did you know that most reusable bags are made from plastic? Sure, they last a lot longer because they are tough but that toughness also makes the bag not break down as fast.
Before the implementation of bag bans, NO business was forced to offer plastic bags. NO customers were compelled to take plastic bags.
If people agreed with the unfounded message of bag bans, they wouldn’t be needed.
People vote their beliefs. Stand in front of any store in a city without a bag ban and you will see about 80% of the people freely choosing plastic bags. City council members do not like the choice that people make. Those same public servants believe that businesses and individuals are just too stupid to make the right choice.
- Bag bans hurt the poor
Whenever an ordinance forces people to spend more money on something, it affects the poor by an unproportionate amount compared to the affluent. To purchase a large number of “reusable” bags is an unrealistic burden placed on a family that must choose between eating a meal and purchasing so-called reusable bags. It is a fact that the poor are more reliant on the convenience of plastic bags than anyone. The poor take public transportation or walk in much greater numbers. They shop at smaller stores and buy fewer items more often. Are they expected to walk around with handfuls of reusable bags all the time?
Proponents try to portray someone putting a bunch of bags in their car and driving down to the local grocery store and buying $100 worth of pre-planned groceries. They don’t think about the person using public transportation or walking on the street picking up a few items at the store. The low and fixed income earners are the most affected by bag bans.
- Bag bans hurt businesses
Businesses do things that optimize their profits. Why would businesses offer free bags? Companies don’t want a pennies worth of bags to stop customers from making a purchase. It is a value added, convenient service that is offered for a calculated reason.
- Shoppers may be swayed to go to a nearby area to buy the same product and because of complementary bags.
- Shoppers tend to forget their reusable bags or do not bring enough. They then are not as open to buying additional items.
- Business has to be the ones to enforce the bag ban, frustrating their customers
- Some businesses have to discard previously printed paper bags that do not city council standards, not to mention all already printed plastic bags. How does that make logical sense?
- Businesses may have to stock and supply bigger, bulkier paper bags
- Businesses are required to track all paper bag sales for a minimum of 3 years
- Businesses are more prone to shoplifting, with customers carrying around multiple types of bags and confusion over existing products carried in from other stores. Why do some stores display a “no backpacks” sign?
- More time is wasted manipulating the customer’s reusable bags, or trying to pack everything into as few “chargeable” paper bags.
- Reusable bags tend to cause more injuries to store clerks as they carry a heavier weight.
- More shopping carts and baskets are used by customers to transport their groceries to their cars farther away because they refuse to pay for bags.
- Shopping baskets and shopping carts (or buggies as we in the South like to call them) “disappear” within a few months from stores in cities that enforce bag bans.
- Bag bans increase paper bag use
It is extremely odd that plastic bags are banned while paper bags are allowed to continue. Studies show that paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic bags. In addition to cutting down trees, they take more energy to create, ship, and stock than plastic bags. A stack of 1,000 paper bags is about 4 feet tall while 1000 plastic bags is about 4 inches. Paper bags can only be recycled no more than four times because plant fibers can only handle that much abuse. Plastic bags can be recycled much more than that
- Bag bans result in thicker plastic bag
Bag bans specify a minimum thickness of a plastic bag to be “reusable,” many businesses are just switching to thicker plastic bags. They either give those away for free or, in many cases, charge for them. Consumers used to get thinner plastic bags for free. Customers, now have to pay for thicker plastic bags. Consider a business that had decided some time ago not to offer plastic bags, but only paper bags. (This is a business decision that they are perfectly fine in the making.) Thus, the only change for Trader Joe’s customers is that they have to pay for their paper bags that were previously free!
- Bag bans increase costs to the public
- A multitude of costs (that are not made known) are incurred due to the bag ban.
- A larger number of “reusable” bags are needed by the consumers than what is considered.
- Customers must disinfect and dry those reusable bags regularly or else E.coli (Escherichia coli) can compromise the safety of their food. Consumers need to buy more bags to have on hand while they are washing and drying the other reusable bags.
- People must manage the bags, taking them out of cars before shopping, returning unused bags in the cars, returning used bags back to cars after inspecting them for dirt, etc.
- People add gas mileage to drive by their house to pick up bags before going to the store. Worse yet is having to return to their home after they have already started to the grocery when they realize they forgot their reusable bag or buy more reuseable bags at the store that they had not budgeted.
- People must pay for paper bags when they forget their reusable bags, and there are very few re-uses for paper bags
- The estimated cost to manage reusable bags is $250 per year per family (when personal time is valued at $12 per hour).
- Bag bans are never voted on by the people
A Bag ban is a controversial law that is more than just inconvenient. Establishing a principle of targeting a product, while stepping on freedoms and liberties of both people and businesses should cause us to take pause. Why don’t city councils put bag bans to the people for a vote?
Examining bag bans carefully, council members avoid a public vote:
- A “minimum fee” for paper bags is implemented instead of a tax. A tax would require a public vote.
- A poll of the citizens to gauge opinion prior to a ban is not presented.
- Bag ban advocates do not want the people to vote. Special interest want to convince city council to impose their beliefs on everyone else. “Do as I say not as I do”
- City council members feel warm and fuzzy over bag bans
No hard evidence and no accountability have been presented. It is evident that bag bans are being passed by city council members just to make them feel warm and fuzzy. Claims are made that they carefully weighed the evidence, but it was finalized before facts were presented. “Public servants” get to feel good about being “green,” even if that decision does more damage than good. The peer pressure from other cities that are passing bag bans affects their voting.
At the end of the day, government officials overreach their authority, millions of their constitutes are inconvenienced. Businesses get to bear the brunt of having to enforce the law while sacrificing sales in the process. The public gets upset, and public health is even at risk for no real reason except city officials can feel good about themselves.
Here are some actual quotes from City Council Members:
“Why is our city so far behind others in this area? We don’t want to be at the back of the pack!”
“We need to get people off their plastic habits. This is just a first step.”
“I have heard that our city benefits from added business because we don’t have a ban. But that’s not fair to the other cities around us. We need to level the playing field.”
- Bag bans make a mockery of the city council process
Despite what the city council may think, the CITIZENRY IS NOT STUPID. They see what goes on. They can see the “holier than thou. I’m above the law” mindset. They see the “Bag Ban Zombies” showing up with bags tied all over their bodies, and signs stating how wrong and evil are plastic bags. Intimidating anyone who dares to stand up for a reason other than what they approve of. City council members have already made up their mind no matter what people say or propose as alternatives. Voices are ignored who disagree.
Numerous email responses from city council members who state that they “carefully considered” the bag ban before making a decision. They realize that “some” people may not agree with it. The decision is made “because it was the right thing to do”. Standard illogical arguments that prove that they didn’t think things through, or even question the statistics that were presented to them are their “wet paper bag” reasons.
Blatant disregard to the public’s voice is a mockery of the judicial process. This disregard leaves the citizens with just one choice: collect enough signatures to force the ordinance to a vote by the people to get it overturned. Councils know that most people will not expend enough energy and money to go through the process. The silent majority sits at home and stews under the new law. Distrust of local government continues to increase. What will our elected officials do next to impact our lives in some other negative manner?
- No studies have ever shown that bag bans improve the environment
San Francisco, California did a study years after a plastic bag ban was instituted. It showed NO improvement stemming from plastic bags being littered into the streets and streams. There has been no study reviewing plastic bag bans that show any positive improvements that would be significant enough to justify the confusion, cost, and pain that bag bans have forced onto the people.
San Jose did a 1-year study after the bag ban and proclaimed success because their people cleaned up less plastic grocery bags. They ignore the fact that those statistics only show that fewer bags were cleaned up, NOT the number of bags that made it past the cleanup efforts. Thus, they only show that city workers had to work a little less hard. So when do the people of the city get a tax break for the savings of the supposed millions of dollars in cleanup?.
- Bag bans hurt people taking public transportation, walking, or bicycling
Just how is someone who takes transit, walks, or bicycles supposed to deal with the bag bans? Are they supposed to regularly carry around reusable bags just in case they go shopping? Bag bans discourage people from taking public transportation, as they are penalized by having to carry bags or buy bags. The bag bans make matters worse by only allowing the user to purchase paper bags. How many paper bags can a person honestly carry? Two, maybe three at the most.
- A vocal minority takes away the rights of the majority
80% – 90% of the grocery shoppers use plastic bags. That means the supporters of bag bans MUST be only 10% – 20% of the population. (Or are they hypocrites?). How is it that about 90% of the people vote daily on their choice of bags, yet they are stripped of that choice by just 10% of the people? It is quite evident why your city council never allows these to see the light of day and be brought to a vote!
- The heart of the issue
Bag bans are meant to control people and their attitudes. There are NO improvements to the environment. Plastic bags are an incredibly small part of a larger problem. It doesn’t matter that officials step on people’s liberties and freedoms and hurt businesses. The main factor “in play” is that they were able to control people’s behavior and force them to adopt what they consider to be a “green” lifestyle.
Source: Stop The Bag Ban