California tried, but earlier this month, the state Senate did not ban single-use plastic bags from use by state retailers. There are at least nineteen billion reasons why they should have been (that’s how many plastic bags Californians use each year), but even more reasons (read: lobbyists) that they weren’t.
If you’re not sure what’s so wrong with plastic bags in the first place, the situation is this: about 50 million or so years ago, people were not people, but big ugly dinosaurs. Some were kind of cute, but most not so much. It didn’t matter though because they all died and turned into big pools of underground oil, which we now lap up like it’s free champagne at the office Christmas party. These dead dinosaurs cause wars, destroy the environment and are turned into plastic, especially bags, which collate out in the Pacific ocean creating a massive garbage heap twice the size of Texas.
The late, great comedian, George Carlin, once suggested that perhaps humankind’s sole purpose is to make plastic, since nature can’t seem to do it on her own. I say we’re creating new dinosaurs out of old dinosaurs and the best way to make sure plastic bags do see extinction is by not using them at all. Here are some tips:
1. You hear it all the time, but, seriously, bring your own bag. Do it! Canvas is sturdier anyway. No, you won’t look like a hippie.
2. Don’t buy things that come in plastic bags, especially if it’s food. You know that stuff’s bad for you. Buy a banana and call it a day.
3. Why is it so hard to just carry stuff? You buy 3 books and a calendar—do you really need a bag to carry it in? Geesh.
4. Reuse the ones you have. Double bag if you need to, but use them until they’re useless. Then, opt for non-plastic options.
5. Cut a deal with yourself: for every senseless plastic bag you throw away you’ll plant a tree or volunteer. Offset your guilty addiction.
6. Talk about it. People are much more open-minded than we often give them credit for. Some just don’t have the time to comprehend why we need to get off of plastic. It’s understandable. Don’t judge. Help and share. That’s how the world becomes a better place.
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Photo: Jill Ettinger