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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 16, 2011 11:47 AM. The previous post in this blog was Have a great weekend. The next post in this blog is A kick in the butte. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Papa's got a brand new ban

Well, the City of Portland's going to ban free plastic bags at grocery store checkouts. This will save the earth, apparently. The problem for us is that we reuse most of the plastic bags we take home, and we recycle the rest. We'll still need plastic bags for some things -- wet household garbage, and cleaning up dog doo left on our parking strip by neighborhood jerks, to name two. And for those tasks, we'll buy plastic bags, driving out of Portland to buy them if the city bans their sale altogether.

The city's move will have no positive effect at our place. There will be no reduction in plastic bags ending up in the landfill or main recycling stream, because none of ours go there now. We will wind up with more paper bags than we can reuse, and we'll recycle the surplus. Extra expense, no benefit to the earth. You have to think that there are many other households in town with the same profile. But a ban sounds green, and if you're a mayor and a city commissioner looking apprehensively at the unemployment line, anything that might pull in a few votes is worth doing.

And what about the plastic bags used to deliver newspapers? It would be amusing if some politician tried to outlaw those. It could be problematic come endorsement time.

Comments (45)

Luckily for me, my nearest grocery stores are not in the CoP but unincorp WashCo or Beavertron (not totally sure of the lines). And I need the ones that don't rip out (those get recycled) for dog poo clean-up.

What about the plastic bags at grocery stores, in the produce and bulk food areas? I may use a recycled bag at the checkout, but I still get five or six of the bulk food bags per trip to the store.

I don't really think this will have much of an effect either way, but I
do roll my eyes at the politicians who will use this to establish their "green" bona fides.

Adams is once again exhibiting his usual ignorance and dishonesty.

It's amazing that someone with such major defects can find a way to being a Mayor.

Plastic bags are a threat to the environment - Not in this country of course, if you've ever been south of the border or overseas.

But at least it's just another way they can tell helpless Portlanders to f#@k off.

Remember when the same people INTRODUCED plastic bags to save trees?

Good luck going by streetcar if you have to carry groceries home now.

And what about the bags for dry cleaning...the ones that say, "not a toy", and "keep away from children"?
I am sure that all the dry cleaners in the CoP will not be happy about handing over clean clothes to their customers only to have them soaked with acid rain in the winter.

Its not really the ban that bothers me all that much. I'm just tired of unpopular politicos wrapping themselves in green to garner popularity. Someone please tell them this type of green is very transparent.

We can always shop at Walmart in Vancouver or Wood Village.

And we can buy gas in Vancouver so that NONE of our gas taxes goes to Portland's speed bumps, bike lanes and bubble curbs.


Except it doesn't exactly ban all "plastic bags". And,the majority of plastic is not in grocery bags, but in the rest of environment--wrapping, shipping, sealing, etc. You'll still get plenty of plastic when you shop, and will still be able to get plastic bags for various exceptions to the rule.

Net effect on the ecosystem? Almost none at all.

Net effect on paper manufacturing? Bonus!

Net effect on recycling providers? Some, because there'll be less bags to clog up the sorting and processing.

Net effect on Adams' future mayoral campaign? Miniscule.

This is another battle in Sam the Scam's War on the Poor.

If you think the plastic bag ban is great, try getting on a TriMet bus with a paper bag filled with a gallon of milk, a 6 pack of Pabst, and 8 cans of Friskies ...

Paper pulpers rise again. They'll be commercially logging in Portland's Bull Run Watershed Reserve in the Mt. Hood NF again in no time. Put a woodpecker on it!

We use them for dirty diapers. This combined with the city's plan to only pick up garbage every two weeks are going to create a real pleasant funk at our place.

Of course, I have never ever expected the city to consider families, and I've never ever been disappointed in that expectation.

(I wonder if you can buy bundles of these bags at CostCo?)

Now Sam the Scam is channeling George W. Bush by way of Nancy Pelosi.

You're either with us or against us. And anyone against us is just astroturf.

When DC pols enacted a plastic bag tax I honored their desire to save the planet by eliminating my lunchtime shopping errands in the District. Then I saved our home and cars from the diaper stench by picking the bags up on errands across the river.

Pass by if queasy,

...for those who get motion sickness, nothing better than a handy plastic bag to keep matters contained.

These bags may come in handy when attending a city council hearing.
Wonder how many citizens have had a sick feeling being worked over
in those chambers?

"But a ban sounds green, and if you're a mayor and a city commissioner looking apprehensively at the unemployment line, anything that might pull in a few votes is worth doing."

"...but I do roll my eyes at the politicians who will use this to establish their "green" bona fides."

"Remember when the same people INTRODUCED plastic bags to save trees?"

"I'm just tired of unpopular politicos wrapping themselves in green to garner popularity. Someone please tell them this type of green is very transparent."

This is all very predictable.

Oregonians, and in particular Portlanders, and all the Overboard Enviro, Green, Sustainability people have created and are now rewarding this type of behavior.

All Sam Adams is doing (and Kulo-Kitz and others) is responding to the marketplace. The Portland (and Oregon) electoral marketplace rewards this type of overly nonsensical Uber-Green crapola. Same with Bike-lanes crapola.

Place the blame where it belongs, right on libtard Portlanders' doorstep. But don't cry me a river if it actually works for Sam Adams... because it just might, given Portland's politics.

This city has so many problems, I can't imagine that how we carry our groceries home would even crack the Top 10.

It'd be nice if the Ban the Bagger folks would take on something more worthwhile, oh, like sewage being dumped into the Willamette for example:

more overflows? there's barely been any rain.

Change brings opportunity and I can see where someone could score in selling Portlandites disposable plastic grocery bags on-line.

Carrying a few of those into a grocery store would be a lot easier and far cleaner than re-using those polypropylene uglies that are made in China.

This is a distraction. They hope to draw attention away from the many legitimate responsibilities of local government they have neglected to address.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, our commutes are getting longer (despite massive investments in public transit), and there are many CoP initiatives and policies which discourage job creation or business recruitment.

The Mayor's political favor is largely devoted to developers/cyclists/artists and he lies like a rug.

But we did ban plastic bags at checkout counters: YEA PORTLAND...

How about we ban smoking?I. Have seen thousands of more cigarette. Butts litterally clogging city sidewalks and drains than I have plastic about cigarettes and how bad they are for the environment?

I , and many I know use the bags for garbage bags , now I will have to spend precious money buying plastic garbage bags , thanks Council , thanks alot , from all the other poor Pdx'ers , thanks !!

I did not need vegetables and fruit anyway.

Oh and I will not vote for you now , you show so little regard for your constituents.

Bans are so Progressive! And Green! May not accomplish anything, but by golly, it Makes A Statement! And really, does
anything else matter?

Hopefully the small number of people who vote here in the city of Portland will have learned a lesson from the election of our lying twit of a mayor, to wit:

If you elect an uneducated college dropout to run and represent your city, bad things will happen.

How about tightly wrapping a plastic bag around the necks of Scam Adams and Fireboy Randy? Both deserve it!

Great Pacific Garbage Gyre

"Pacific Ocean garbage patch worries researchers"

The 30th largest city in the 3rd most populous country has banned plastic bags?

Whoop-de-freakin-doooo! I can feel that global debris field shrinking as Sam speaks.

Assuming all 584,000 Portland residents never used another plastic bag, we only have another 6,774,651,700 global residents left to persuade.

Here's a great bumper sticker idea:

Portland: saving the planet 0.00862% at a time.

I was going to mention those TWO plastic bags that wrap my newspaper every day. I've also become a new grandma recently and I can attest to the fact that packaging - especially for toys and the like - is utterly ridiculous. When it takes 20 minutes, a sharp knife and a scissors to remove the packaging, it's a bit excessive I'd say.

The city council had to come up with some burning issue to obscure the fact they have been allowing King Randy to squander Water Bureau funds in violation of the city charter..

Portland: Planet savers in their own minds.

Great! It's about time!

In addition to contaminating the recycling stream, unjamming plastic bags out of star sorters amounts to approximately 1/3rd of recyclers' labor cost -- resulting in higher collection rates for you and I.

unjamming plastic bags out of star sorters amounts to approximately 1/3rd of recyclers' labor cost

That sounds like a totally bogus statistic. Where'd you get it -- Sam Adams's web site?

Do you honestly think that if the city bans plastic bags at grocery checkouts, recycling costs are going to decrease 33%? If so, you are beyond gullible.

Mr. Tee has it right; this is just a ruse to try and coverup all the things that haven't been done that are desperately needed.

Let me summarize the objections voiced here to the plastic bag ban:
1. Our mayor is inept.
2. There are other plastic bags not banned.
How can this proposal withstand such a withering attack?

"There will be no reduction in plastic bags ending up in the landfill or main recycling stream, because none of ours go there now."

what do you do with the plastic bags you use for picking up poop etc?!

We do reuse plastic bags at home, for wrapping up stuff, left-over dinners, etc. The problem is not knowing where they go after we've repurposed them or given them to someone else.

Will we still get plastic bags at farmers markets?

"Let me summarize the objections voiced here to the plastic bag ban:
1. Our mayor is inept.
2. There are other plastic bags not banned.
How can this proposal withstand such a withering attack?"

that's a poor summary, I'd say. I'd summarize it differently:
1. Our mayor famously subsitutes easy issues like this for tackling difficult ones.
2. The "ban" will have no meaningful net effect on the amount of plastic garbage in Portland, or the Pacific Ocean, or anywhere else. And, it actually has the potential to WORSEN the harmful effects of substitutes.

In addition to contaminating the recycling stream, unjamming plastic bags out of star sorters amounts to approximately 1/3rd of recyclers' labor cost -- resulting in higher collection rates for you and I.

NOTE: the person who posted this is not the Max who has been posting regularly.

You identify two sources of plastic bags in your house; paper delivery and grocery stores. You use some for animal waste and some for "household wet garbage", recycle others. Those bags you do use end up in landfills. Have you see the areas around landfills? The million pieces of plastic bags blowing in to the countryside, eventually finding their way into all sorts of sensitive environments?

There are easy and better alternatives to the two uses you have identified.

It is a good them to be responsible for your dogs waste, be creative and help with our polluted planet.

Thanks for the sermon, o holy one. I don't have a dog, but as I wrote, I do pick up after inconsiderate dog owners' crap machines. As long as plastic bags exist, that's what I'll use. The same for wet household garbage. The planet is just going to have to deal with it.

Just a side note: the "plastic" bags are actually produced from a waste-product that would otherwise be burned. As noted above:

"Remember when the same people INTRODUCED plastic bags to save trees?"

But the scheme has had its critics. While it was true that the tax led to a dramatic drop in the number of bags being handed out in shops, it also triggered a 400% increase in the number of bin liners and black refuse bags being purchased. The tax also encouraged an increased reliance on paper bags which, according to a number of life-cycle analysis studies that have compared the environmental performance of various types of bags, require more energy to manufacture and release more greenhouse gases when degrading following their disposal. And while it is commonly accepted that plastic bags are a genuine blot on the landscape (and seascape), they only represent a tiny fraction of the waste stream by weight or by volume. For example, in the US they account for less than half a percent of domestic refuse.

The implication – expressed or otherwise – of such criticism is that we are either largely wasting our time pursuing such tactics in attempting to eradicate plastic bags, or that we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by what is, relatively speaking, a fairly minor environmental woe. James Lovelock, the climate scientist, has referred to the current obsession with plastic bags as “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. Patting ourselves on the back about how few plastic bags we each now use allows us to ignore far more pressing environmental issues such as, say, climate change, overpopulation, rapid species extinction and the depletion of resources such as fresh water. Today’s war on plastic bags is certainly worth fighting, but not if it is at the expense of these other concerns.

More to the article, but it points out that we need to look at the total picture. I suspect as others here that Mayor sees this as votes for being "green" or that he sees this as some percentage of "tax revenue" for the city.

We've started double-bagging all of our produce now. Sometimes I stuff a few extra bags in with the cucumbers. The produce bags will have to suffice now that we can't get the plastic shopping bags anymore in PDX city limits, they worked great for cat litter and the bathroom garbage can. We rarely threw them away without using them for some kind of refuse disposal; I would even tie knots in the bags with holes in them. The paper bags now fill up our drawer that once kept plastic bags until we stuff them all in the recycling bin every week.

As clinaman pointed out, plastic bags are really a tempest in a teapot, when we have oceans to consider. I believe most life-cycle analysis also considers paper bags to be less environmentally friendly - takes chemicals to produce, they weigh considerably more than plastic bags, thus increasing transportation costs, and also takes more to recycle given the weight.

Personally, and I realize this is not valididated by any study, but the empty Taco Bell bags dumped in the street seem to be far more of a problem than an empty grocery store bag. With all of the exceptions, I think Taco Bell gets to keep using their plastic bags. Produce and bulk bags are still allowed, as are bags from small stores, such as the convenience stores.

There is also the equity argument here - as someone alluded to earlier carrying groceries home on the bus in a paper bag in the rain just is not going to work. Let's be realistic - will you remember to grab your reusable bags before you go to work at 6:00 a.m., since it takes that long on Tri-Met to get to your job at 8:00 a.m.?


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