#BanTheBag? Let's discuss.

#BanTheBag?  Let's discuss.


There’s been a growing debate about the role of plastic bags in the American consumer shopping experience, and how the wasteful usage of such bags contributes to the environmental degradation and pollution of our planet’s ecologically sensitive lands, oceans and natural environments. As Americans, we have all seen streets and parks littered with trash, all of which of course has worsened the quality of life of our respective communities, and if left unaddressed, will only continue to worsen in ways unimaginable by today’s realities. 

So, how did we get here? Why is this debate being had in the first place? Well, to start off, you should know some of the troubling facts about plastic bags and it’s wasteful utilization in the United States: 

    •    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

    •    According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually (estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion).

    •    4 out of 5 grocery bags in the U.S. are now plastic.

    •    The average American family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only 4-6 trips to the grocery store. 

These facts and statistics depict an unfavorable view of plastic bag waste and usage in the United States, yet it can’t be denied that it is an inescapable component of the American consumer shopping experience. 

But clearly, something has to change. 

Unfortunately, the proposals and plans which have been introduced, debated and implemented in communities throughout the United States -  such as the imposition of fees and taxes on plastic bags and products, to the outright ban of plastic altogether - have fallen short of their intended goals and purposes. 

Why, you might ask? Because, as with most things, government-backed plans and solutions fall short of their intended goals and purposes, especially when it comes to human behavior, and the government-mandated attempts to change such behavior to achieve a politically motivated goals. This of course, without even mentioning the fact that taxes should not be used to coerce or incentive behaviors government agencies and/or officials find politically expedient or necessary for their own goals and interest. 

This debate offers the perfect example as to why I feel conservatives and free market proponents must actively participate and engage in the national conversation on climate change. If there’s no one to advocate for common sense, free market oriented solutions in the local, state and national level, how can we expect political leaders and government agencies to even consider proposals which favor our philosophically views and ideals? 

As conservatives, we must mobilize and make sure our voices are heard - loud and clear. For if we don’t, Americans will be faced with a government which continues to grow under the guise of  climate change action, while doing little to address the actual root causes of the problem, such as addressing plastic waste and consumption through the improvement of waste management and strengthening of recycling practices and programs.

David Acosta