Letter: Why charge for paper in plastics ban proposal?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

If the purpose of the initiative by MountainTrue and the Sierra Club is to reduce single-use plastics, why are they proposing a 10-cent charge for paper bags? [Green in Brief: MountainTrue Seeks Ban on Single-use Plastics,” April 13, Xpress] Wouldn’t you want to encourage paper over plastic? Or is there really a different motive for which they are using the microplastics issue as a Trojan horse?

Eliminating plastic bags, then charging for paper just makes people angry and distrustful of environmental groups. Is what they really want a total change in our lifestyle and the economy (and basically for us seniors just to die because we are the ones who can’t ride bikes or walk everywhere)?

If they had stayed on the topic of reducing single-use plastics, they would likely get more support. By the way, I abhor paper straws. However, at home we use metal, reusable straws, eliminating the plastic ones. We try to take them with us when we eat out to avoid both plastic or paper straws.

So I am amenable to initiatives to reduce single-use plastics. Just be careful not to conflate issues, in this case plastic reduction with tree-hugging.

— Gary Incorvia

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted MountainTrue and the WNC Sierra Club with a summary of the letter writer’s points and received the following response from Anna Alsobrook, MountainTrue’s watershed outreach coordinator: “MountainTrue, WNC Sierra Club and Environment North Carolina have modeled the proposed ordinance on best practices learned from researching more than 345 other laws from around the country. This model, which combines a ban on plastic shopping bags at checkout with a 10-cent fee on paper bags, has proven to be the most effective way to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags to the store. It is crucial that in addressing one problem (plastic pollution), we not create another (deforestation). MountainTrue takes a comprehensive approach because we understand that seemingly different issues are interrelated. Forest management affects water quality; energy policy affects air quality; urban planning affects public health; and so on. It should be noted that MountainTrue has long advocated for expanding public transit to reduce carbon emissions and increase mobility for people who can’t or do not want to drive.”


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Why charge for paper in plastics ban proposal?

  1. Biily

    Stop. Enough already. The lowly working class citizen can’t be forced by capitalist market principals to save the earth based on how they get their LLC for profit food home. How about instead of further costing the poor more money, you pass a law outlawing 10%+ markups on food items. How about you get rid of taxes on unprepared food? Then build sidewalks, and no, not throw a sidewalk right up against the 4 lane road with no grass abatement, no, a real sidewalk, like real towns put in their cities. Nope. It won’t happen. It so much easier for the upper middle class to sit around at wine and cheese parties convincing themselves that their views on civic stewardship should be instilled on the whole world. Through purchasing choices the world can be made better. A new, conscientious consumption. Activism through organic fruits, fare trade coffees, buy local campaigns. But no legal and statute relief for the poor, they need to pay for their weak economic positions. Let’s say $10 bucks for organic avocados. Buy buy buy your way into the world you want to see, and tax and fine those who don’t agree. It’s only food.

  2. North Asheville

    Agree with the letter writer, that charging for paper bags will be counterproductive.

  3. NFB

    Reusable bags cost money, which makes for an added expense for the poor (as would the ten cent cost for paper bags.) Plus there is the expense that goes with washing them, to say nothing of the environmental impact of the water use needed for that cleaning. So it appears that MountainTrue’s “approach” is not as “comprehensive” as it likes to think.

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