Plastic Bag Bill Should Not Become Law

A Personal Perspective

The proposal to levy a five-cent charge on customers for each plastic shopping bag used by a store for their groceries has not garnered broad support.

This week, the state legislature voted on a one-year moratorium for the bill and the governor, who calls it a “complicated issue,” is undecided on whether or not he will sign it.

Hopefully, the governor will sign it and environmentalist types can be called upon to help find a better solution than socking it to the consumer once again.

Customers pay enough for the food and products in those bags, so they should not also have to pay for the bags they use to tote it home. The cost of those bags should continue to be the onus of the store. It should not be the burden of the shopper.

Ever since gas prices skyrocketed some five years ago, everything else went up with it. It is so bad that even when gas prices drop, the cost of goods remain high. It does not reflect the reduced gas prices and that is akin to highway robbery.

How fair is it then that consumers are to be billed an extra nickel for every plastic bag in which they carry the groceries? Not fair at all.

It is good that the governor and state legislature are being thoughtful about this. It is wise that the City Council, which proposed and passed the bill on the municipal level, saw the need to protect the environment. But there is a way for consumers to sock it to the stores while simultaneously being environmentally friendly: carry your own bags.

Now that the state seems ready to approve a “stay of execution,” we should use the time to come up with a better solution. We do need to find solutions to the proliferation of plastic bags in our environment. But charging customers for each bag is not the pocket-friendly solution we need.

We ought to go back to a bygone era when shopping bags were easily decomposed. Those bags were called paper bags. Those large, brown paper bags, even when they ended up in the landfill, would break down in no time.

We ought to return to those glory days. Many of us recycle the plastic bags at home. They are handy for bathroom garbage cans and to carry items to other places, but there are just too many. They become a nuisance in the house as you try to find places to store them.

Some supermarkets, such as Stop and Shop, take them back or, at least, use them to bag your groceries during your next trip. Let us use the time, if approved by the governor, to come up with a creative solution. What we need is not another cost. What we need is an idea that will be a win-win.

As the governor says, five cents may not sound like a lot, but it adds up if you buy a lot of groceries and when you need to double bag items. It is also sticking in the craw of New Yorkers that the bill, as passed by the City Council, would allow for the fee to be pocketed by the shopkeepers.

It would be one thing if it were some sort of tax that would benefit us all, but this sounds more disingenuous than thoughtful. We can do better than this. Please, somebody, find a better way to love the environment without hurting ou pocketbooks.

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