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Plastic Bag Bans Have Unintended Consequences

plastic-grocery-bags

Ramesh Ponnuru considers “The Disgusting Consequences of Plastic-Bag Bans.”

[T]he industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.” The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.

Warning of disease may seem like an over-the-top scare tactic, but research suggests there’s more than anecdote behind this industry talking point. In a 2011 study, four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. The problem appears to be the habits of the reusers. Seventy-five percent said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot car trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold.

That study also found, happily, that washing the bags eliminated 99.9 percent of the bacteria. It undercut even that good news, though, by finding that 97 percent of people reported that they never wash their bags.

Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright, who are law professors at the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University, respectively, have done a more recent study on the public-health impact of plastic-bag bans. They find that emergency-room admissions related to E. coli infections increased in San Francisco after the ban. (Nearby counties did not show this increase.) And this effect showed up as soon as the ban was implemented. (“There is a clear discontinuity at the time of adoption.”) The San Francisco ban was also associated with increases in salmonella and other bacterial infections. Similar effects were found in other California towns that adopted such laws.

I find reusable bags convenient for all manner of things but don’t use them for groceries. And I’ve got enough sense to launder them if something spills in them. But I’m not at all surprised that most people don’t; it’s pretty low on the priority list.

I’m old enough to remember the days before plastic bags became common and groceries came in brown paper sacks. We got pushed to use the less desirable plastic bags because of all the trees that had to be harvested to make the paper variety. For years, we’d get asked “Paper or plastic?” at checkout. Then, they stopped asking.  Now, some stores are asking again, although usually in the form, “Plastic okay?” I wouldn’t be shocked if we came full circle and saw the revival of brown paper bags.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Just Me says:

    I like my reusable bags and do use them for groceries but I still have my meat put into plastic bags. The bags hold more and don’t break.

    I am very picky anyway about how my meat is bagged.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. It strikes me that of the portion of the sentence that reads “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom” the really important part, in terms of the spreading of norovirus is “left in a hotel bathroom” not “reusable grocery bag.”

    Perhaps the solution is to remind people to wash the bags? (And perhaps be careful about one takes into a hotel bathroom, or really, the bathroom in general).

    I really do not have strong feelings on the general topic of grocery bags, although I can see the point about the plastic ones. What I don’t get is the contempt that some, like apparently Ponnuru, have for the things. I know it is partly just “don’t tell me what to do”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think it’s that, along with a general contempt for social engineering, which inevitably has negative unintended consequences. I’m actually sympathetic to trying to shift away from disposable plastic bags, which create problems in our landfills and with our wildlife. But, unless we really educate people on their use, reusable bags are probably not the solution, at least in grocery stores.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. I reuse the misnamed single-use plastic bags again and again. One way is to wrap my compostable trash, creating a heat oven of sorts that accelerates decomposition. In time, the bags become brittle and break down to the poiint where I mash up the collection of wasting away bag and decomposed organic matter and work it into flower beds or my vegetable garden. I only use the so-called reusable bags at the Costco where I’m typically buying well packaged materials materials in bulk. Unlike what most of the commentators and posters on this blog believe, individual people can think, be creative and do what is best for themselves, all the while being responsible. Believe whatever you want to believe, create your little voluntary cooperatives to foment collective action and create your tyranical utopias, but stop the hell using the police power of the state to force your tyrannical views on the rest of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  5. “An examination of deaths related to intestinal infections shows a comparable increase”

    This post soft pedals the study’s findings..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: My problem with plastic bags bans is that they are a regressive tax. Here in Brazil it´s very common to see poor people walking from supermarkets and riding buses with groceries in plastic bags – if you drive all your day then it´s easy to keep reusable bags on your car, but if you use transit then it´s very difficult to keep bags with you if you decides to go to the supermarket when you are going home. And here in Brazil even poor places have good grocery stores and supermarkets with produces that you´ll find in Whole Foods in the US. Imagine a poor single mother living in poor areas of Chicago and Los Angeles where there is no supermarkets for miles.

    Besides that, it makes little difference in the great scheme of things(Consider all the plastic contained in the bags!), and if people are having to spend resources washing bags then it means more environmental damages via detergents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think it’s that, along with a general contempt for social engineering, which inevitably has negative unintended consequences.

    There’s a big conservative meme about unintended consequences of “liberal” policies. There seems to be less recognition that everything has unintended consequences, even conservative policies. To cite one prominent example, financial deregulation and the ’08 crisis. Everything has unintended consequences so you have to look at cost benefit.

    I’d question the statement that the grocers went to plastic to save trees. It’s sort of like motels going green by not washing your towels every day. More to do with cost to the grocer or hotelier than with green.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  8. JKB says:

    It makes sense to go back to paper bags. With the decline in print news (paper), I’m sure the paper industry could use the boost and it would probably net out to be even with current wood pulp usage. Save jobs, save lives, the ultimate renewable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    I wouldn’t be shocked if we came full circle and saw the revival of brown paper bags.

    The Trader Joes’ here in NY uses brown paper bags as a matter of course. It surprises me to learn this isn’t more widespread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    I wouldn’t be shocked if we came full circle and saw the revival of brown paper bags.

    I have been waiting for this since the debut of the plastic bags.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. rodney dill says:

    When stores ask ‘paper or plastic?’ I never can remember which is supposed to be more environmentally friendly. Guess I’ll have to google it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: Same here. But it seems to be only Trader Joe’s that does it. Well, them and the state liquor store which, oddly, puts bottles in small brown paper bags, which it then puts into plastic bags.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. John Burgess says:

    My local grocery stores still offer “plastic or paper”. Whole Foods is the exception, with paper bags only. I have secondary uses for both, so I choose according to what I’ve got coming up. The plastic bags do get more secondary use, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. JKB says:

    @rodney dill: When stores ask ‘paper or plastic?’

    It’s a trap! Your answer will mark what kind of person you are.

    Unfortunately, you have to be up on the latest eco-fad. Plastic – save trees. Paper- biodegradable, saves landfills, “Reuseable” bags- save trees, save landfills, spreads disease, wastes water and dumps detergents in the environment. How will you know the right answer? Acceptable to the cashier and the people in line behind you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Franklin says:

    @John Burgess: Agreed, I have more re-use possibilities for plastic than paper bags. BUT, not nearly enough to use up 10+ a week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Let’s Be Free:

    but stop the hell using the police power of the state to force your tyrannical views on the rest of us.

    I will respect that statement when you and your types stop trying to rape our women with vaginal probes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  17. J-Dub says:

    @Just Me:

    I am very picky anyway about how my meat is bagged.

    I stopped bagging my meat when my girlfriend got an IUD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rodney dill: When stores ask “paper or plastic” nowadays, they’re asking how you intend to pay for it — cash or debit/credit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Oh, come on, people! The Government (localities, in this case) have spoken — plastic is BAD, and must be banned. Those who are inconvenienced by this dictate simply must learn to adapt and adjust to the wisdom and the will of the majority. And if a few people die in the process, so be it. It’s a necessary price of progress, “collateral damage” in the war to save the environment. “Choice” is bad, because people might make bad choices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  20. Just Me says:

    I like my grocery store in NH. I can use reusable, they offer plastic and paper bags.

    Honestly, the reusable bags really are far more convenient IMO when hauling groceries (although agree plastic may be easier for those on foot). I still won’t put my meat in them.

    Oh and plastic has all sorts of reuse potential. They are great for trashbags in the car, and I always keep few for emergency dog poop clean ups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Spartacus says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think it’s that, along with a general contempt for social engineering, which inevitably has negative unintended consequences.

    The general contempt for improving society is a hallmark of conservatism that lives for this kind of example of unintended consequences that is so easily debunked by any thoughtful person.

    As already pointed out, there are unintended consequences to everything and since the unintended consequences are, almost by definition, unknown all government decisions (including the decision not to enact a new law) have to be judged on the effects of their intended consequences. The intended consequences of banning plastic bags are more beneficial than the intended consequences of not banning plastic bags.

    By just washing the damn bags we get to avoid illnesses and save the environment so how is this an example of “social engineering” gone bad?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  22. PogueMahone says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    What I don’t get is the contempt that some, like apparently Ponnuru, have for the things. I know it is partly just “don’t tell me what to do”.

    Ponnuru and his ilk just love to hate anything the Left supposedly likes.

    This reminds me of the article that made internet waves back in 2007 that because nickel mining for Prius batteries harmed the environment, it actually turns out that the Hummer is less damaging. (of course, that turns out to be false… but why let facts get in the way.) So the conservative blogosphere cheered and roared “IN YOUR FACE, LIBTARDS.”

    I remember reading a libertarian blog a few months ago citing a study that reusable bags can make you sick. Naturally, the commentariat cheered and roared “SUCK IT, MOONBATS.”

    Now why, do you suppose, that when things that liberals and progressives (or whatever) seemingly champion has the potential to harm the environment or get people sick (true or false), conservatives would want to cheer at that?

    @James Joyner:
    But, unless we really educate people on their use, reusable bags are probably not the solution, at least in grocery stores.

    Okay. Let’s do that.
    Throughout modern history we’ve learned how to manage our daily lives and reduce the risk of ill health. We learned to cook our chicken thoroughly; we’ve learned to keep our medicines out of reach of children; we’ve learned to sterilize thermometers; clean out our air filters; etc. etc.

    This should be just another easy fix. Wash your tote bags. Problem solved. No controversy.

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  23. JKB says:

    @Spartacus: By just washing the damn bags we get to avoid illnesses and save the environment so how is this an example of “social engineering” gone bad?

    Now we need another law mandating “reusable” bags be washed weekly. Then another one authorizing random police stops in store parking lots to check compliance. And another one to ensure such bags are not used to carry ammunition. And another to stop stores from asking that all bags and backpacks be checked at the service desk. Then another one to ensure all “reusable bags are made from no less than 60% recycled materials. ad infinitum

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  24. JKB says:

    Oh and you know what we need? We need a law mandating all “reusable” shopping bag users carry insurance to pay for the costs they impose on society by not washing them often enough. Come on, they are sending people to the emergency room and soon, the costs will fall under Obamacare. And who better assess the risks associated with “reusable” shopping bag usage than insurance companies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. PogueMahone says:

    @Just Me: Damn straight they’re more convenient.

    We live in a rural area. The nearest grocery is 20 miles away – and getting those groceries home in a South Texas July raises concerns. My wife, who has a delicate stomach, worries about keeping the food cold so we switched to insulated bags and they work like a dream and now we can successfully bring home a pint of ice cream and not end up with sweet milk, or a young fryer and not worry too much about salmonella.

    Me? I have an iron gut from years of seasoning it with whiskey, and I don’t care too much for ice cream. So I don’t worry about it that much.
    Oh… and we wash our bags. (well, my wife washes the bags.)

    Cheers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. bernieyeball says:

    @J-Dub: I stopped bagging my meat when my girlfriend got an IUD.

    U get the sik fuk award for the day!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. rudderpedals says:

    Yumm! Aerosolized feces. Really people, how hard is it to understand that storing food containers in the bathroom is a crappy idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Spartacus: The general contempt for improving society is a hallmark of conservatism that lives for this kind of example of unintended consequences that is so easily debunked by any thoughtful person.

    No, the contempt isn’t for improving society. It’s for improving society through compulsion. And this is just one more example of why I (and others) hold such actions in contempt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  29. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @PogueMahone: It’s very simple, Pogue: “your side” said “we”re going to make you do things our way, because we know better.” Then, when that blows up in your faces (and ours, because you’ve coerced us into doing it your way), it’s really, really hard not to rub your faces in it a little.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Especially when it blows up in pretty much exactly the way we predicted. That makes the gloating even harder to resist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  31. PogueMahone says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    No one is making you do anything.

    You don’t have to buy a Prius and you don’t have to re-use tote bags.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  32. bernieyeball says:

    I Pledge Allegiance to Mother Gaia and to Her dirt and rocks on which I stand.
    One Planet that we must save. So I think I’ll go live in a cave.
    Amen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  33. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @PogueMahone: I’m paying for Chevy Volts. A lot of cities have banned plastic bags.

    And while we’re at it, let’s have three cheers for (mercury-laden, overpriced, imported-only) CFC bulbs, (inefficient, ineffective) low-flow toilets, and biofuels (let’s burn our food!). That’s just three off the top of my head.

    To clarify: it’s not just that these are bad ideas, but they are bad ideas that were mandated upon all of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  34. Spartacus says:

    @JKB:

    Great – go ahead and jeopardize your health and the health of your family by refusing to wash your bags until the government enacts a law requiring you to do so.

    What a freedom-loving genius you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. wr says:

    @JKB: If the only way you can make an argument is with statements this stupid, you’ve lost before you’ve even started.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  36. Spartacus says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Then, when that blows up in your faces (and ours, because you’ve coerced us into doing it your way), it’s really, really hard not to rub your faces in it a little.

    Can you please explain what it is that has blown up in someone’s face?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  37. Spartacus says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, the contempt isn’t for improving society. It’s for improving society through compulsion.

    Every single law that’s ever been enacted was done so for the purpose of improving society and its enactment compelled those who were opposed to the law to either do something or to refrain from doing something. So I guess you hold contempt for all laws of any kind unless such laws have unanimous support.

    Are you sure you’re old enough to roam the internet unattended?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Funny, we were saying the exact same thing about CDOs and derivatives in 2008….and you conservatives screamed FREE MARKET and refused to do anything about it.

    I guess it depends which side of your ball gets bitten, don’t it?

    Look–we’ll make a bargain. We’ll stop trying to pass regulations as soon as you Free Marketers stop trying to shove all the externalities of capitalism on the taxpayer and bring them back to the corporations, where they really belong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  39. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “We’ll stop trying to pass regulations as soon as you Free Marketers stop trying to shove all the externalities of capitalism on the taxpayer and bring them back to the corporations, where they really belong”

    And that’s really the core of this conservative “argument,” whether over paper bags or light bulbs or anything. They play up the externalities of the new regulation — no matter how insignificant they may be — while pretending that there were absolutely no external costs to the old way of doing things.

    So a handful of people get sick because it never occurs to them to rinse out their reusable bags — it’s an abomination of the nanny state!!! But the fact, say, that California spends $25 million a year sending plastic bags to landfills and another $8.5 million to remove them from the streets (numbers from the Clean Air Council, used for example only since I have no way of verifying them) never makes it onto the other side of the equation, because that’s just the way things are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  40. Tillman says:

    @PogueMahone:

    Now why, do you suppose, that when things that liberals and progressives (or whatever) seemingly champion has the potential to harm the environment or get people sick (true or false), conservatives would want to cheer at that?

    This is one of the true cases of “both sides do it.” Falls into the set of “politics as team sports” stories. You can’t say it’s a false equivalence when I’ve got memories of the jeering when the Koch-funded climate scientist finally admitted global warming was real.

    This should be just another easy fix. Wash your tote bags. Problem solved. No controversy.

    Yeah, this isn’t really hard. We’re not tackling childhood obesity here, people; it’s a small set of the population not washing something easily washed. It won’t increase detergent use by so much as to do serious damage to the environment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Tillman says:

    @JKB:

    Now we need another law mandating “reusable” bags be washed weekly. Then another one authorizing random police stops in store parking lots to check compliance. And another one to ensure such bags are not used to carry ammunition. And another to stop stores from asking that all bags and backpacks be checked at the service desk. Then another one to ensure all “reusable bags are made from no less than 60% recycled materials. ad infinitum

    Please. First off, slippery slope is fallacious, everybody knows that. Second, you don’t need to craft a law to prevent people from infecting themselves with a disease, you just need to make them aware that it’ll give them a disease. Then you let nature take its course, and the people with a good sense of self-preservation reproduce.

    Also, you use a tote bag to carry ammunition?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m paying for Chevy Volts.

    Since when? I don’t recall you ever proving to this blog’s audience conclusively that you have, or ever have had, a job.

    Besides, you’re paying like a quarter of a penny a year. No one is miserly enough to give a crap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  43. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tillman: I pay my taxes, as required, when required, unlike prominent Democrats like Geithner and Rangel, so blow it out your ass.

    And as far as how much… it’s that kind of attitude that has us $16 trillion in debt, and Obama wants to make it even more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  44. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Spartacus: Every single law that’s ever been enacted was done so for the purpose of improving society and its enactment compelled those who were opposed to the law to either do something or to refrain from doing something.

    No crap. Did you ever think that maybe there are some things that simply aren’t the government’s business to dictate? The areas where the only appropriate response to attempts to regulate are “screw off, I’m doing what I think best, and you have no business threatening me for wanting to do what I want instead of what you think I should do?”

    And I gave you examples — CFC bulbs that have to be imported from China, tend not to last anywhere near as long as they were promised, prove far less useful than promised, and are jam-packed with toxic metals. “Low-flow” toilets that require 2-3 flushes to do the job the old ones took in stride. Rising food prices because we’re required to burn food for fuel.

    Now they’re talking about introducing E-15 gasoline, which is highly likely to damage or destroy the engines of older cars — disproportionately affecting poor people. And Obama’s EPA is threatening to fine oil refineries for not using special additives in their fuel — additives that don’t exist.

    Here’s the problem: you don’t seem to recognize that a lot of these “social advancement” polices are incredibly stupid — someone says the right magic words, and you fall all over yourself supporting them without actually thinking them through. You don’t seem to bother asking “will these work?” or “is what they promise actually desirable?”

    Here’s a good theoretical example: death penalty or life imprisonment for child molesters. Sounds good, right? Who can’t support that?

    OK, so we have a guy who rapes a child. Once he’s done, he looks at his victim and says “if I get caught, I’m done for. This kid’s still alive, and can identify me. If I kill the kid, there’s no witness, so it’ll be harder to catch me. And if they do, it’s the same penalty if I don’t kill the kid. So the smart thing to do is to kill the kid — they can’t execute me twice.”

    Congratulations. This well-meaning law just gave a perverse incentive (pardon the expression) for child molesters to kill their victims.

    Now I’ll wait for you to respond that I’m soft on child molesters, and insinuate that I’m probably a pedophile myself. Because you won’t bother to actually address the issues.

    Or you could surprise me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  45. Spartacus says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Did you ever think that maybe there are some things that simply aren’t the government’s business to dictate?

    Do you mean those things that are protected by either the federal constitution or a state constitution? If so, show me the provision in your state or federal constitution that gives you the right to use plastic bags and I’ll shut up.

    Or do you mean things that are not spelled out in either the federal or a state constitution, but are still so personal that the government should leave them alone? If so, please explain why the use of plastic bags is that personal even though their disposal causes harm to the environment that everyone else shares.

    And if you do believe that there are some things that are so personal that the government should leave them alone even though those things are not expressly spelled out in either a state or federal constitution, then I trust you also believe in a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion which is based on a right of privacy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Spartacus: So, you wanna get meta here? Sure… but first, let’s stay micro. You’re arguing that the government has an obligation to “save the environment” by compelling policies that are killing people. Maybe you’re too young, but plastic bags came about to “save the environment” — we used paper bags (biodegradable paper bags) were from killing trees. So, just how good an idea was that?

    Now, on to the meta. Hell, yes, I believe in choice. I believe in choice in a lot more cases than you do, I’d wager. I believe in school choice, lightbulb choice, toilet choice, union/non-union choice, seatbelt choice, gun choice, helmet choice, food choice, and a whole lot of reproductive/sexual choice.

    I happen to use reusable shopping bags, but occasionally get the plastic because they make good trash can liners and for carrying small stuff sometimes. And sometimes I’ll ask for paper, because they have their re-uses as well.I do that because I chooose to do so.

    Why are you so anti-choice? Why do you think you — through the federal government — have the right to make so many important decisions for others?

    Here’s a fun example: DDT, malaria, and Indonesia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You’re arguing that the government has an obligation to “save the environment” by compelling policies that are killing people.

    This is, of course, patently ridiculous regardless of one’s views on the policy matter under discussion.

    The government is not compelling people to use dirty bags. They are choosing to do so.

    The government compels us to where clothing. If I leave my clothing in a hotel bathroom and they are contaminated with norovirus and I get sick because I failed to wash my clothes, is that the government’s fault since it compels me to wear clothing in public?

    Your line of argument is absurd.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  48. (For that matter, couldn’t one just as easily say that washing one’s reusable bags is a personal responsibility issue?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  49. Liberty60 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, the contempt isn’t for improving society. It’s for improving society through compulsion.

    Yes, if there’s one thing the conservative ethos is opposed to, it is social mores, conventions, and structure.

    Everyone should just be free to do as they please, man! No more rules, order, or etiquette! Like you know, do your own thing, dude and don’t be hasseled by the Man, man!

    Seriously, as others have mentioned, why is this so hard of a social convention to abide by?

    Cover your mouth when you cough; wash your hands after going to the bathroom; Change your underwear daily; and wash your grocery bags on occasion.

    Somebody needs to teach conservatives how to be conservative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  50. mantis says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Your line of argument is absurd.

    Indeed.

    And let’s not forget that even in areas where there are plastic bag bans, the stores have simply switched to paper bags only. No one is required in any way to use reusable bags. And then, of course, as you note, they certainly aren’t compelled to neglect to wash those bags if they do choose to use them.

    @Jay Tea’s bacteria-riddled puppet Jenos Idanian #13:

    Maybe you’re too young, but plastic bags came about to “save the environment” — we used paper bags (biodegradable paper bags) were from killing trees. So, just how good an idea was that?

    Well, that idea came from the free market, not the government, dipshit. But since the market is always right, I guess you think it was a great idea.

    I believe in school choice, lightbulb choice, toilet choice, union/non-union choice, seatbelt choice, gun choice, helmet choice, food choice, and a whole lot of reproductive/sexual choice.

    Please explain to us why you think it is a bad thing that the government compels us to wear seatbelts in cars. After all, about 255,000 lives have been saved by seatbelts since 1975.

    You may also notice that you support the party that wants to limit reproductive/sexual choice, but I’m sure that’s far less important to you than the availability of plastic bags at grocery stores.

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  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Please explain to us why you think it is a bad thing that the government compels us to wear seatbelts in cars.

    Consider it active Darwinism. If you’re so stupid as to refuse to wear a seat belt, then maybe you shouldn’t live long enough to breed. I’m a seat-belt militant; I always buckle up, and if you ride with me, so do you. I do it because I’m smart enough to know it’s safer; are you so stupid that you need the government to tell you to buckle up? Or are you smart like Jon Corzine?

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  52. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If you’re so stupid as to refuse to wear a seat belt, then maybe you shouldn’t live long enough to breed.

    Seatbelt laws don’t just cover people who make such decisions for themselves, they also cover kids. Many of those 250k+ lives saved by seatbelts were children. I guess you’re just fine with people getting their kids killed too. Darwinism is awesome!

    I should also note, for dimwitted twerps such as yourself, that government mandates that car manufacturers install seatbelts in cars (in addition to airbags). If the government did not do this, you could find yourself in a car with no seatbelts, or shoddy ones that don’t work right because there is no regulation.

    You know what else I’m sick of? The evil government compelling food businesses to keep deadly bacteria out of their food. Fascism! Let darwinism work it out. If people are dumb enough to take the risk of eating food that they have not personally grown and processed, they deserve what they get. Also, building code fascism! If I want to risk my life by entering a building that I haven’t personally inspected to make sure it is safely constructed, then I deserve to be crushed by a collapsed wall.

    So on the one hand we’ve got your misanthropic militancy that all people you deem stupid should die needlessly, and on the other hand we have thousands and thousands of lives saved. I’m on the side that saves lives. Good luck with yours.

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  53. anjin-san says:

    which create problems in our landfills and with our wildlife

    The consequences of plastic to wildlife are somewhat greater than “problems.” Slaughter is more like it.

    Forty percent of the Laysan albatross chicks born each year die from eating plastic, this page on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website talks about the problem.

    http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/oceanissues/plastics_albatross/

    This is but one example…

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  54. anjin-san says:

    @ Tillman

    Apparently Jenos pays 4K a year in taxes. In his mind, he is a maker.

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  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Let’s simplify things: why don’t you make a list of where people are allowed to make choices. Major decisions where the chance that they might inconvenience you in some way doesn’t give you veto power over what they do.

    And no, abortion doesn’t count. That’s only a choice for about half the people. Men don’t have any say in that matter, so that’s off the table.

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