Letter: Don’t legislate plastic-bag reduction

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville City Council reportedly wants to ban single-use plastic bags within Asheville city limits [ “Singled Out: Asheville Considers Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags,” April 26, Xpress]. Plastic bags, if they end up in the landfill, do not deteriorate over time as most garbage does. For your information, Ingles, Home Depot and Lowe’s stores provide a bin for customers to deposit their plastic bags. The content of these bins is then picked up by a company to be recycled for flooring, furniture, etc.

The problem is that there are many residents in Asheville who are uninformed about the importance of recycling plastic bags. They dispose of these bags in their garbage or release them freely outside on roads, etc. The solution, to my mind, is to educate the public about the harm that single-use plastic bags can inflict on the environment, not to ban the use of these bags through legislation.

If this ban is passed, it applies only to the city of Asheville. What about Buncombe County and other mountain counties? Don’t they deserve to know how single-use plastic bags are bad for the environment? To my mind, education, not legislation, is the key to fixing this problem.

— Meiling Dai


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t legislate plastic-bag reduction

  1. gyp

    Seems to me that banning plastic bags sends a pretty strong educational message that they are bad!

    To use an admittedly imperfect and rough metaphor, this letter’s rather libertarian argument appears akin to saying we shouldn’t have speeding tickets, but rather should simply make sure that everyone knows how dangerous speeding is.

    • Mike Rains

      I think you are bit too harsh in your response. The author of the article makes a good point.

      If you think banning blown plastic bags is a good approach, consider this: The energy requried to make paper bags is 4X that of blown plastic.

      So if everyone just starts using the great, biodegradeable paper bag, it appears we have solved one problem but created annother.

      The goal, of course is to get consumers to routinely carry their own reusable bags into all stores for shopping.

      Education and incentivization are what constitue good lawmaking. The author has the first part nailed. The incentivization is what is also needed.

      That is a lot more difficult and nuanced then just banning something. But more effective.

  2. El Gordito

    Most plastic bags aren’t recycled. Even if put in the recycling bin. Charge 5 or 10 cents each for bags. If they continue to be plastic, maybe they will be a bit more sturdier than the paper thin, easily ripped ones we get from supermarkets now. In areas with free bag bans, people learn to bring their own or do without. In these areas it’s also acceptable to bring your own bags into a store. I tried doing this but stopped after being followed around by security or having cashiers roughly molest my bags in front of me to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything. The annoyance wasn’t worth the good I was trying to do by bringing my own bags. I’m sure everyone has bags at home or can simply use a box. It’s really not that difficult. Americans tend to be rather immature when it comes to being slightly inconvenienced for the greater good.

  3. DW

    More education? Do you really believe there’s someone out there that doesn’t know that un-recycled plastic bags are bad for the environment, and the reasons why? Please. This discussion is as old as I am, on the news when I was a kid in the 1980’s. Banning bags or charging for bags (how about $1) are the only real solutions because most, including the City of Asheville (plastic bags are not accepted in recycling bins) don’t really give a rats a–.

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