Bag Ban: Culture. . . Fail? Win? You Decide

The recent ban of plastic bags by the city council has polarized our town. Some are applauding the ban of single-use plastic bags, while others are frustrated and annoyed. No one can really ignore the negative impact plastic bags have on the environment. It’s clear something needs to change, andCorvallisis just the environmentally savvy sort of town to make such changes. However, people are finding that the ban isn’t just affecting them at the grocery store.


Most people reuse plastic bags in their homes, and they have become a staple of modern convenience. For instance, dog lovers reuse plastic bags to pick up after their pets, the same goes for cat litter, moms use them for dirty diapers, and still others use them to separate out stinky products in the garbage. There are a 101 other uses for plastic bags, and if you look under anyCorvallissink, you’ll likely find a stash of them. So how do we solve these problems now? Paper bags, although biodegradable, still contribute to problems with clear cutting. Not to mention the use of paper bags in a state where it rains 8 months out of the year is going to become problematic- fast.


So it looks like the best option is reusable fabric bags. But then of course there’s a question of locality: where were these bags manufactured? If you’re buying the bags provided by the grocery store there’s a good chance they’re made overseas, where standards of working conditions are questionable at best. Winco’s reusable green bags in particular don’t even offer any information on where they are made. Then, of course, those bags need to be shipped over in vessels that pour hundreds of gallons of oil into the oceans. So it seems the issue is not as black and white as the supporters of the bag ban have made it look.


The bottom line for me is this- I am not a child. I’m a grown adult who can make my own decisions. And I would happily pay a little more for an eco-friendly biodegradable plastic bag given the option. I resent the option being taken away from me completely by those who suggest I am too stupid to help myself. Making changes and working together to limit the egregious environmental impact we have on the Earth is a very noble cause. But banning plastic bags outright, especially without a vote from the people ofCorvallis, is not the answer.


By Magdalen O’Reilly