Opinion: An NJ Ban on Plastic Bags is Coming
Two recent incidents convinced me that a statewide ban on plastic bags in stores is inevitable and probably closer than we think.
Over vacation I took my daughter back to school clothes shopping and one of the stores we hit at Bridgewater Commons Mall was Garage. Three pairs of jeans and a sweater.
“Do you want those in a bag? If you do I have to charge you ten cents.”
Since we were talking four brand new articles of clothing and the kids wanted to end at the food court where things could get messy, yes, I paid the tenth of a dollar for a stupid plastic bag. The thing is, the other stores hadn’t charged us for a bag, so I didn’t think this was a mandate by the township. I checked a recent NJ.com article when I got home to be certain and sure enough Bridgewater was not listed as one of the many towns that already passed some form of law prohibiting plastic bags (not to mention straws or even styrofoam).
So Garage is apparently on board with this movement as their own policy. If stores are doing this of their own will, surely this offers lawmakers less fear of blowback. 21 towns and one entire county (Atlantic) are already living with some form of plastic restrictions. 11 more have passed such laws that are scheduled to go into effect and another 18 are contemplating bans.
We’re inching towards the inevitable; a statewide ban. Another recent example is one day this summer when I took my daughter to a restaurant and sodas came to the table without straws.
“Excuse me, we didn’t get any straws,” I said when I caught the server five minutes later.
“We don’t give those unless a customer specifically asks.”
Then we stared awkwardly at each other, me not processing at first that we were in the middle of a ridiculous game where I still had to officially ask what had already been implied.
“I’d like straws please?”
Wow. All this is nice virtue signaling but won’t accomplish much. Here are some myths versus facts on the issue I shared earlier this year.
Myth: Plastic bags are just a convenience.
Fact: Plastic shopping bags are not just a convenience and are not single-use only. Plastic shopping bags not only serve to carry items home from a store but are then reused to help manage a household and for pet waste and many other purposes.
Myth: Reusable bags are greener and better for the environment.
Fact: Not so. Stronger, heavier bags made to last longer and be reused, no matter what material they are made from, use more resources in their production and therefore have a greater impact on the environment. They studied this at Denmark's Ministry of Environment and compared the environmental impact of reusable cotton totes to plastic bags and paper bags. Turns out because of the manufacturing process, organic cotton totes fared THE WORST. They would need to be reused many thousands of times (beyond their life cycle) to have the same environmental footprint as a lightweight plastic bag. And nobody talks about this.
Myth: Plastic bags are a large part of the waste stream and landfills.
Fact: Plastic bags usually compromise less than 1% of a landfill. In a study in Toronto, they represent only 0.6% of the waste stream.
I’ll say it again. You’re inconveniencing customers, burdening businesses, and you're not saving the environment. Way to go Trenton!