The thing about the NJ plastic bag ban that no one realized (Opinion)
In my never-ending quest to convince our listeners how stupid and useless the plastic ban is, I’ve written several articles about how banning the bags doesn’t really do anything for the environment. In fact, in many ways, it’s worse.
That’s why I chuckled when I saw an article on NPR.com, of all places.
Yup, the people whose listeners carry more cloth bags than anyone in the world printed an interesting study a few years ago regarding the banning of plastic bags. And how it actually does nothing. Or worse.
Now there’s an irony for you.
But there are so many things that don’t make sense here.
One such incongruity is the fact that paper bags aren’t allowed either when those are completely biodegradable. Another is the amusing fact of the carbon footprint from producing all the other bags people are going to have to go out and buy now.
In the article, NPR cites a 2011 study that says you would have to reuse a cotton tote bag 131 times for it to even make a dent in the climate issue. In fact, the study says, it’s better to use a plastic bag ONCE than a cotton tote bag any less than 131 times.
And if you say, “Well, it’s just not just about climate change!!! It’s about the environment in general!!!” Guess what? The same article cites a Danish study that says that when it comes to negative environmental factors like greenhouse gas emissions, water use, damage to ecosystems and air pollution, the cloth bag loses again compared to the plastic.
They estimate you would have to use an organic cotton bag 20,000 times more than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment.
Now here’s the biggest paradox. Maybe you’re thinking, “OK I won’t use cotton bags. I’ll eschew the Pubic Radio crowd and I’ll buy my own DIFFERENT bags.”
Well when bans like this happen, according to the article, sales of plastic bags increase exponentially. One study showed a 120% increase in the purchase of plastic bags. Plus, 30% of what replaces the grocery bags end up being even THICKER bags.
So now, not only will we have even more bags floating around, but they’re gonna be thicker and harder to dispose of.
But if it makes you feel good, by all means, support this plastic bag ban! Just know what you REALLY bought when they sold it to you.
See the NPR article here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.
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