A rippling effect of the green movement has witnessed many cities either imposing taxes to consumers on plastic bags or banning them altogether. This movement has triggered a change in behavior for many consumers and businesses. Some establishments have responded by offering for sale customized reusable cloth bags that not only are trendy, but also offer advertising for companies. Some shoppers now opt out of plastic bags and request paper bags.

San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic shopping bags back in 2007. Since then, other cities have followed—Los Angeles, Seattle, Westport, Connecticut and the entire state of Hawaii. Other jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., find local councils embroiled in debates over taxes on plastic bags.

Unfortunately, some trade associations refuse to accept the fact that plastic bags are harmful to the environment because they take up valuable space in landfills and litter streets, streams and shorelines. One organization of plastic manufacturers now argues that the ban of plastic bags could threaten more than 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States. Donna Dempsey, the spokeswoman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, even states that “the plastic bag has gotten a bad rap”. Dempsey goes on to say that 90% of consumers reuse plastic bags, that these bags require less energy to produce than paper bags and that they take up less space in landfills.

This is a very touchy issue. While no one wants to see any manufacturing sector decrease in size or disappear, one has to wonder why the experts in the plastics field would rather concentrate on portraying as a myth the hard facts about the negative impact of plastic on the environment as opposed to making a better product. We have witnessed other industries being forced to make drastic changes to stop pollution. For example, most localities have had to overhaul public transportation to provide clean buses and electrically powered trains. The auto industry has been forced to upgrade vehicles to use cleaner fuels. These changes actually have stimulated the economy in terms of providing new educational opportunities, jobs in research and development and employment implementing new technology in factories.

Let’s stop the politics here. Plastic bags are harmful to the environment. As stewards of this planet, let’s stand behind the movement to adopt alternatives to plastic bags. This movement begins with our refusal to use plastic bags. Let’s shop green, live green, be green.

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