A few years ago a student, at the behest of her environmentalist middle school teacher, explained to the Murrieta City Council how she wanted the city to take the lead by being the first city in the Inland Empire to ban plastic grocery bags. She claimed it was coming statewide, eventually, anyway, so why not be known as the city that took the lead?
I was present for a different issue, but decided to use a part of my time to address her rant. I explained that the political class behind the drive of eliminating plastic grocery bags were the same ones when I was a kid calling for an end of the use of paper bags to save the trees. They encouraged us to move towards plastic grocery bags. Now, they are encouraging us to move away from plastic bags.
I also explained that reusable bags are a health hazard. Wrapped chicken breasts leak. Vegetable debris and fruit debris sometimes sticks to the bag, or separates from the product and takes up residence in the bottom crevices. Fish oil leaks, and hummus residue attracts moldy nasty stuff if left in the corner of the bag long enough. If not washed thoroughly, residue from food that had been in the bag will decay and create opportunities for illness to infect the bag's user, or worse. Washing the bags vastly shortens their lifespan, however, so trying to not breed disease in your back will make it last little more than a handful of uses.
Besides, banning the use of plastic bags in grocery stores will not end the fact that they end up in the trash. People use these bags as trashcan liners, and when they can't get them at the store for free, they will be buying similar bags for their trashcans in packages, or online. The decay rate of the reusable bags in a landfill is much worse than that of the demonized plastic grocery bags. The bags may lie there for years before they begin to break down.
After the city council meeting ended, one of the council members chastised me for hurting the feelings of the middle school girl who had called for Murrieta banning single-use plastic bags. According to the council member, while I was talking, the girl began to cry. Either, she couldn't take it that anyone would dare disagree, or she realized my arguments completely destroyed her presentation.
She is probably now an anti-Trump snowflake crying about she didn't get her way in this election, either.
The old saying is that if you tax something, you will get less of it. Therefore, the liberal left has added to their plastic bag ban, as articulated in the recent California Proposition 67 (which passed), the requirement of a ten cents grocery bag fee, to reduce the use of other bags (such as paper), and encourage the use of reusable bags. The other day, when I bought some ice cream, I rejected spending a dime for a bag for a single grocery item, so, on the surface it seems the leftists are getting what they want. But, I can buy plastic grocery bags online. What keeps me from stocking up on these bags, and taking them with me to the store? Or, as a product promotion I can buy a bunch with my logo on them and give them away so that people don't have to spend a dime for a less quality paper bag. I would be providing a service while promoting the Constitution Association, or my books, or my radio shows, or whatever.
There is another thing I think will start to happen. Without plastic grocery bags at the store, and having to spend a dime per bag for other bags, people will stop shopping at the store and begin to use online services. In other words, the leftist attempt to reduce bag usage will injure the economy, reduce local grocery purchases, and eventually kill jobs in California neighborhood stores.
We don't live in a static society. Consumers will find a way around the authoritarian rules that try to dictate what bags we use. The laws banning plastic bags may work locally in hard left neighborhoods where the mindless automatons think they are saving the planet from evil human industry, but on a larger scale this new law will backfire, and cause more problems than it claims to eliminate. Heck, this might be the moment in history that begins the downfall of community shopping, knocking all stores out of the market, and converting our society into a system that only buys online!
As for the political implications, laws like the plastic bag ban are an authoritarian gateway drug. Once the authoritarian leftists see they can get away with the ban, they will be emboldened to take away more things, more freedoms, and more liberty.
Let's look at another angle, too. Liberal left progressive Democrat socialist commies hate big corporations, hate people getting rich off of anything, but now that there is essentially a mandate to use paper bags or reusable bags, which means the reusable bag industry is going to go through the roof. They are going to get rich selling their reusable bags that are mainly produced in. . . wait for it. . . China.
China ships the reusable bags made also with plastic thousands of miles overseas. The reusable bags are made from a heavier material. They sit longer in landfills than their thinner, disposable cousins. Fine, if they get reused a large number of times it is possible they will replace hundreds of single-use plastic bags per year. But what if people aren't using them that often?
28 times as much energy.
So, while the left continues to worship their environmental accomplishments, be prepared for damage to the economy, lost jobs, sick Americans infected by rot in the bottom of their reusable bags, and frustrated folks picking up their scattered groceries in the parking lot when their paper bag rips, and spills its content all over the pavement… as the Chinese communists laugh all the way to the bank with pockets full of cash.