Government, be it Congress or all the way down to city councils, often feel the overwhelming need to “do something.” As experience has shown us, most of the time these efforts by government usually create a problem — or make an existing one worse. Such is the case with the proposed ban on plastic bags by the Burbank City Council.
Apparently in their zealousness to be both ecological friendly and politically correct, some of our council members feel compelled to prohibit supermarkets from using plastic bags. The ban would also force businesses to impose on their customers a 10 cent charge for each paper bag. It would be similar to a measure recently enacted by the L.A. County Board of Supervisor for unincorporated areas of the county.
Apparently, being up there in the “ivory tower” of City Hall, some on the council may have forgotten that we are in the midst of recession. The last thing we need is more onerous regulations on businesses, and more fees (in reality a tax) on consumers. Using the City’s own figures, we each use around 650 plastic bags a year. That’s an addition $65 per person they want you to pay each year. For a family of four, that going to cost you over $250 a year to pay for making the city council feel good about being politically correct. And where does that 10 cents go? Does the store keep the extra cash, or will the City figure out a way to latch onto it?
What the council should be asking is, “Why isn’t the City recycling plastic bags?” Plastic is recyclable. At our house we recycle plastic bags every day. They are ideal for lining waste baskets. When it comes to picking up after a dog, I would challenge the council to use one of those eco-friendly reusable bags. One of the best uses we’ve found is donating them to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, where the clients use them to carry home donated food.
Being old enough to remember the days when markets only had paper bags, I’m thankful for the convenience of having a paper bag with a plastic bag around it. It offers the best of both, the strength of paper, and the easy carry convenience of plastic. If you’ve ever had a grocery item that is damp, you know why paper bags alone aren’t good.
Anyone who wants to do so can take their own reusable bags to the market. But no one should be forced to do so. It is simply a case of government trying to interfere with the rights of the people. It’s an area where the council really doesn’t need to stick their noses in. There are plenty of other more pressing issues for them to deal with.
If you would like to let council members know your opinion on this issue, you can email them. Just go to the council’s web page for links to each member’s email.