Friday, December 5, 2014

If It's Good Enough For Rwanda It's Good Enough For Me

Ever since San Luis Obispo County's plastic bag ban for retail stores over 10,000 square feet went into effect back in the fall of 2012, I have observed a boycott of the bag ban by not purchasing paper or fabric bags nor bringing my own bags.

I realized all along I was cutting off my nose to spite my face but I was irked by yet another regulation being passed down upon us by Big Nanny Government, this time on the local level. The justification/fig leaf for the regulation on "single-use" plastic bags was it would clean up the environment and prevent such bags from adversely effecting marine life. I found a dearth of empirical evidence to support this was a problem, especially in relation to all the myriad other things that get littered and adversely effect marine life. Also, litter is overall composed of many more things than merely plastic bags. Are we going to ban all those items, too? I also did not like the fact a panel, the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (WTF that is), decided on it and not a public vote for something that effects all of us each and every day.

Yes, my reaction was excessive but to me it was a sort of final straw. My inconvenience has been surprisingly minimal which shows me I don't really need bags of any type all that much. Now California has passed a similar statewide ban on "single-use" plastic bags. Coupled with that I learned yesterday in my global geography class that the African nation of Rwanda has banned plastic bags nationwide.

Not only did I overreact to the initial ticky-tack regulation but despite it probably being less environment-saving than advertised it's still not such a terrible idea from a public policy standpoint. How so? By forcing people to have to purchase bags they will be less inclined to discard them into the environment in light of the fact they paid for them. I do HATE litter!

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