It’s also interesting to note that the cities with the highest use of reusable bags are the two largest cities in the People’s Republic of California: San Francisco/Oakland (4.4) and Los Angeles (4.02). With all the mainstream press reports about the homeless and trash problems in San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the most abhorrent photos of urban dumps being created in those cities, I’d say California has bigger problems than plastic retail carryout bags. Those big blue plastic tarps used by the homeless in those cities probably contain far more plastic than several hundred carryout bags.
When I read a press release from the CEO of Kroger telling us that its stores are getting rid of plastic bags because of consumer demand, I have to really question that statement. According to the Crestline survey, that’s just not true. Kroger is just trying to paint itself green.
Number six on the list of consumer guilt trips (the lowest ranking) is using plastic straws. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal published a good editorial in the May 28 edition: “Would You Like Guilt with Your Latte?” Allysia Finley, a member of the WSJ’s editorial board, echoed what I’ve said a number of times about Starbucks’ decision to ditch its green plastic straws for adult “sippy cup” lids that use far more plastic and are only recyclable if people have the good sense to put them in a recycling bin.
“So why are businesses taking these costly and often counterproductive actions?” asks Finley. “They’re trying to show employees, customers and shareholders—including institutional investors with a political agenda—that they care about the environment. But how many investors buy shares in a company because of its 'sustainable' policies? . . . How much do the higher costs of these policies reduce earnings and lower share prices?”
Good questions! We in the plastics industry know that the alternatives to plastic bags, straws, cups and so forth are often more damaging to the environment and more costly to produce than plastic. The WSJ’s Finley notes that most of these companies are “virtue signaling” and “merely following the lead of other companies or bowing to political pressure.”
At the end of the day, American consumers want convenience and low prices, and we have nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to using plastic. We in the plastics industry have an obligation to continue to get the truth out to the public who are misled by hype rather than science, and confront these brand owners and corporations who are being pressured by groups with their own political (and monetary) agendas to stand up for science.
It may not be easy being green, but it’s even harder to be scientific!
Image: mybaitshop/Adobe Stock