Real Choices

I spoke at the environmental advisory board meeting for Boulder tonight and asked them to consider implementing reduction of plastic bags into the master city waste plan. I was with my campaign group from New Era Colorado whose knowledge and passion were obvious as they addressed the specifics of plastic bag bans.
We have been conditioned to think of this issue in overly and destructively simple terms. Paper or plastic? Plastic bags do not break down in landfills, require precious oil to produce and with Americans using over a billon plastic bags a year – add to the mindless human behavior threatening the collapse of our oceans. It is a common misconception to think that paper bags are a responsible alternative. For years I thought I was being environmentally responsible by asking for paper then reusing them for garbage receptacles. It turns out that new paper bags are more resource consumptive then plastic and although they break down in the landfills – their birth is far too laborious and resource intensive to justify a hopeful, easeful return back into the earth.
We need real choices. We need choices that allow us to be socially, economically and environmentally responsible.  We see the effects of plastic bag waste at home in our trees and in our streams. Stark reminders of a non-choice we are asked to make nearly every day. We need to think outside of business opposition when creating a policy  (and besides – what business do they have destroying marine life and putting dioxide in women’s breast milk) and start thinking about supporting food systems that encourage health.  It is true that we do not have to worry about being eaten on a daily basis (which is really nice to relax the trusty ole limbic system), but we do need to worry about how we eat and how we transfer our life source.
Vitamin cottage has a bring your own bag policy. Whole Foods doesn’t carry plastic bags. Reusable bags are a real and easy start to change. Many US cities and other countries have banned or taxed plastic bags with overwhelming citizen support. It starts with changing one daily habit. When our children inherit the wasteland spawned from our forgetfulness, comfort and convenience – we better have something better to say than, “We tried.”

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