Bag ban no biggie

The hostility over the new restrictions at local retailers is ridiculous

The angry reactions over Chico’s new restrictions on single-use plastic bags are pretty laughable.

For starters, the City Council approved the municipal code back in May. That means locals had seven months to wrap their heads around the concept that they’d be charged 10 cents per paper bag should they not bring their own sacks. Pretty much any type of bag will do, by the way. In the days since the law took effect, we’ve seen folks use backpacks, tote bags and the popular ChicoBag-like nylon variety. We’ve also seen people reusing the thin plastic bags no longer being used by local stores.

In other words, most folks probably already have something at home that will do.

Chico’s move to pass this law isn’t exactly groundbreaking, either. More than 130 municipalities around the state have similar versions of it on the books. Moreover, California legislators recently passed a similar policy restricting single-use plastic bags, and we know how long it takes to get anything done at the state Capitol. That law is now being challenged by those in the plastics industry who stand to lose money. They’ve paid signature-gatherers in an effort to force a referendum in the 2016 election.

We’re going to hear a lot of pro-plastic-bag propaganda in the coming year; about how the law is a job-killer, how reusable bags spread disease, how plastic bags are not harmful to the environment. It’s mostly bunk, of course.

Manufacturers can change with the times and start making thicker, reusable bags. The “germ factor” on the reusable varieties is mainly baseless, considering stores still provide the type of bags that hold raw meat and veggies. And for anyone who doesn’t believe in the environmental impacts of plastic in general, we’d invite them to vacation at Midway Island, where the offspring of albatrosses die at a ratio of 1-in-3 from eating plastic debris. Or take a trip to the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre—home of the so-called Pacific Garbage Patch. That’s where scientists have found concentrated levels of disintegrating plastics that enter the food chain. Those environmental catastrophes do exist, despite pollution-denier rhetoric.

This isn’t rocket science, folks. These products are harmful and doing without them only requires getting into a new habit.