So I see that as a positive. Straws now, I don’t see the logic in it beside trying to condition people into “plastic = bad”. It’s the the “broken windows theory” applied to (anti-) plastics environmentalism.
In the case of plastic bags, they seem to be commonly mistaken for squid and jellyfish, eaten by the albatross and sea turtles, to name just two species.
So while the bag-free aesthetic on land is an improvement, the potential for downstream benefits is even greater.
You fix that by improving the sanitation system so that garbage is not dumped into the ocean, not by trying to stop the creation of garbage going into the system.
350 million metric tons of plastic are produced each year and that number is growing by 4% per annum. Plastic bags are not going to change that, and plastic is only one type of long lived material in our garbage.
The solution is to not dump garbage into rivers and oceans and to create effective sanitation systems in developing countries.
But people in Germany forgoing the use of plastic bags, thinking that they are saving a seal or something are just misguided. Germany has an effective sanitation system -- India, Thailand, China, Myanmar do not. Nothing you throw away in Germany is going to end up in the ocean.
They are due to plastic being a pollutant.
That is literally the exact point of reusable bags. The hint is in the name.
And of course the larger issue is the totalitarian nature of this. Who needs two cups of coffee? Ban the second cup! This idea that we should start using the government's monopoly on violence to ban what are symbolic and irrelevant things -- even without thinking through the repercussions for sanitation and energy -- is a very dangerous one.
But you are not making the world better, you are forcing random laws on people as part of an empty performative ritual.
If you wanted to live in a cleaner world, you would focus on improving systems of sanitation rather than trying to force a very marginal reduction in waste going into these systems.
90% of the plastic in the ocean comes from 10 rivers in India and Asia. The plastic is in the ocean because of poor garbage pickup and disposal infrastructure, it's not there because some guy in San Francisco is using a single use plastic bag when he goes shopping. If you want to make the "world" cleaner, then improve the waste management infrastructure rather than trying to reduce plastic waste by 0.000000001%. The thin disposable bags are not gonna put you over the top.
These are all symbolic acts that have real world deleterious consequences in terms of personal liberty as well as increasing the number of food poisoning cases, emergency room visits, etc, due to people re-using bags without properly sterilizing them between each use.
Plastic bags just happen to be the most pervasive and visible source of trash.
There aren't many places to throw trash, the norm is to just throw trash anywhere outside your house. Even the more upscale suburbs in the big cities have essentially no trash cans, and the garbage collection areas are open dumps, so plastic bags fly all over the place.
The trash is sometimes picked up and burnt, or other times just burnt in place, and the smell is toxic as there is generally a lot of plastic.
The whole plastic bag problem has a huge cost on basic city infrastructure: In most of Karachi, every drain and sewer pipe is either choked with plastic bags, or has just been cleared and will get choked again in due time. And so every time it rains, the city floods, and there is a grand proclamation of building more drains and sewers.
In North Pakistan, around the most remote and beautiful lakes, ones where no one lives as they are too high and remote, many have plastic bags scattered all around, most I assume carried there by the winds from nearby towns/villages, as some of the ones I visited don't get enough visitors to have thrown the amount of plastic bags I saw.
Visiting places (again) which used to be pristine not that long ago really hit home how much we humans have spread our "stuff" everywhere.
Edit: The ban is a bit too harsh. Should have been rolled out slowly, to give ppl more time to adapt, like targeting larger stores (which are in the tax net and thus easy to monitor and punish) and then rolling it to other stores, and finally everyone.
Me: “Yeah, and it never will be with that attitude”
Far more efficient than the packaging we have in the west which tends to be either super thick paper or super heavy plastic bags with added packaging on top.
Just reuse bags.
I reuse plastic bags (garbage, traveling w/ liquids, picnics), and if I have a bunch of extras, I take them to the grocery store, where they have a recycling bin for them. I don't know if they actually get recycled (I read that they often end up in the landfill regardless), but there's a chance. I rarely get too many though because most of my shopping is at Costco, which doesn't provide them.
I disagree that a ban here is necessary or useful. I use them quite a bit, so at least for me, I'll be producing "more" waste because I'll need to buy new bags instead. Paper bags aren't as useful (can't hold liquids, are more rigid, break easily), and I always seem to forget my reusable bags.
I wish more stores would follow Costco's lead and reuse those cardboard trays, which are just as useful for carrying groceries to/from the car and are obviously recyclable and biodegradable. Honestly, I prefer them most of the time because they keep things from rolling around, I can carry more in one trip to the house, and it's easier to see where certain things are for organizing later.
What we need isn't a plastic bag ban, but maybe a tax on them based on the cost of cleaning up discarded plastic bags. It costs $0.05-0.15/bag to buy small garbage bags (bathrooms, office, etc), so the tax shouldn't be more than that. Charging for plastic bags seems to work, so why not just do that instead of a ban? Those of us who find value in these bags can continue to use them (I love them for dirty diapers, rotten food, and other stuff that shouldn't hang around the house for days), while those who don't can use other bags.
In city with excellent garbage collection, plastic bags used once and then (say) incinerated in the city heat plant may well be better than paper. Although as you say re-using cardboard boxes is always a great idea too.
Reusable bags are a habit thing. Once you're in the habit of taking bags with you it's much easier, but is a right pain until then.
I do agree a minimum price might be better, at least that would make medium-term degradable bags (corn starch etc) more readily used as they're currently out priced by non-degradable plastics. However sometimes the outright ban gets things moving faster.
For reference plastic bags have been banned where I live for two months now. I don't miss them.
By contrast, plastic is basically proving itself a global poison at this point, whereas paper decomposes easily.
Me, too, and the only reason it is an issue is because you and I grew up with stores that would provide you all the bags you need (and in fact would have stared at you oddly had you brought your own bags). Think you’d forget if no grocery store had ever given you a bag?
Time for you and I to both develop some new habits. I started by always keeping bags in the car; if I forget, I just have to walk back across the car park. Hell, I’ve taken to keeping a bag in my backpack should need to make a purchase on the electric push scooter.
This is like 'forgetting' your credit card at the shop, or 'forgetting' your car keys when you head outside the shop.
You bring your reusable bag or backpack or whatever or you can barely carry anything. Sorted.
The key here is to make a habit of keeping your reusable bags in your car's trunk so they're always there when you need them. Then if you forget to bring them in with you, punish yourself by going back out to the car to get them; after doing that a couple of times, you'll remember when you park to get your bags and bring them in with you.
>Those of us who find value in these bags can continue to use them
They are actually pretty useful for many small things. I use them for lining my bathroom's tiny little trash can, for keeping food waste in my fridge until I throw it out (you can't put avocado pits in the garbage disposal, and if you throw them in the main trash they attract insects), and I also keep a couple in my backpack just in case I need an extra bag for carrying things.
Do paper bags hang from trees and phone lines for years?
Do paper bags cause enormous damage from clogging up sewers and sewage processing plants?
I'm quite sure there's no giant swirling mass of plastic bags in the Pacific Ocean.
Sure, there's a huge amount of plastic pollution there in gyres, but it's not from people using plastic bags at the grocery store in middle America. It's from stuff like shipping containers blown overboard, and various other trash that has gotten into waterways.
Your other points are sound I think, but not this one. If you want to complain about the gyres, then you need to take aim at ALL plastics and discuss banning them ALL. That'll basically set our technology back to the early 1900s or so.
Turtles could eat paper bags all day and probably be fine.
They may not be the #1 contributor to the Pacific Garbage Patch, but they're a component of it.
But as I said somewhere else in this discussion, I think all these grocery bags should be made of the corn starch plastic that breaks down quickly, and I'd like to know what those weren't mandated since they've been around for at least 20 years now.
Single use non-plastic items made of other materials like corn starch would be interesting, but they're going to have to be sure to not brand them as "plastic".
Banning plastic bags in San Diego led to a Hepatitis A outbreak.
2nd and 3rd order effects are not so easy to anticipate.
Here's another prettuy interesting drive going on at the moment
They've already planted over a billion trees