So, come March retailers in Albany County won’t be handing out any plastic bags. And, if you want a paper bag, you have to pay a nickel each. The objective is to get people to bring their own reusable bags when they go shopping.
I can understand the logic — get plastic products out of the landfill and, more significantly, stop them from being discarded and blowing around the environment free-range style.
Like anything, though, it won’t stop the slobs from tossing everything out their car window, but will inconvenience the responsible people who do recycle and are considerate enough to not litter.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I use the plastic bags as garbage bags and would always ask for one even if I just had one or two items. Of course, I would always end up with one plastic bag stuffed full of other bags under the sink which eventually ended up in the recycle bin.
I’m not sure what I will do now, outside of buying garbage bags. I can’t imagine carrying a bunch of paper bags from the store is going to be that easy. Every TV sitcom that features a clumsy scene of someone spilling groceries all over never drops a plastic bag. It’s always someone trying to carry paper bags that spills the stuff.
I can understand the ban on plastic, but not the nickel fee/tax for a paper bag. The onus is squarely, and unfairly, put on the smaller retailers to either charge a fee or absorb the cost of the more expensive paper bags, which are bulkier, more expensive and not as easily stored as plastic if bought in bulk.
The distribution of the money is bothersome too, with 3 cents going to the state and 2 cents going to the county. Supposedly, that money will be used to help offset the cost of re-usable bags for the lower income people and for programs on educating people on the benefits of reusable bags. And, by extension I guess, the evils of plastic bags.
The retailers get nothing yet are being told what they can and can’t do and still have to funnel money up the food chain to the state. It’s not fair, though, I don’t hear many complaining about it. Probably because they don’t want to be perceived as anything but “green.” The cost can be absorbed by the marketing departments of larger retailers, and the smaller ones, the ones who always suffer the most when government decides to intrude or the “greater good,” will just take another blow.
I really don’t mind a straight up plastic bag ban, and the push for reusable bags just makes sense. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I don’t like seeing the cheap little plastic bags blowing all over the place, getting stuck in trees and just making things look nasty like all sorts of litter does. The same people who toss plastic bags on the street will toss paper bags, but at least paper bags, unlike plastic, will decompose in a lifetime. That’s the same reason the ban on plastic straws is not a bad idea.
If for no other reason than cutting down on litter, the plastic bag ban is not a bad thing, I don’t think, but every time I hear people like Legislator Joanne Cunningham, D-Bethlehem, talk about “rescuing the planet” I think about the George Carlin skit on the environment.
“And the greatest arrogance of all is ‘Save the Planet.’ I’m tired of these white bourgeoisie liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. There is nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are (he used a vulgarity akin to being screwed bt that is not appropriate for a family publication.) Compared to the people the planet is going great, it’s been here 4.5 billion years. We’ve been here 100,000 years maybe 200,000 and we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for 200 years. That’s 4.5 billion versus 200 years. The planet has been through a lot worse than us.
“Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles, hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment of comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires and erosion and cosmic rays and recurring ice ages and we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference. The planet isn’t going anywhere … We are.”
But until we do, at least maybe we can do something about littering so we have a nice place to live until everything goes up in flames and we too become one of the extinct species we try so hard to save.
The Legislature also last week opted to not cave to the hysteria and ban e-liquid from the shelves of Albany County.
This comes as the state, knee-jerk executive order ban on e-liquid is on hold and being decided by the courts.
Everyone thought the ban was a done deal, including, presumably, the Democratic Party caucus, which holds a majority of legislators, or they would not have brought it to a vote and instead simply tabled the measure yet again.
But they did vote on it, in the negative, so to bring it back will require the process to begin all over again from the start, and that means all the committee debates and hearings and bureaucracy before it even comes before the full Legislature.
It takes a while for a bill to become a law. Remember that little bill who bounced around the Capitol during Saturday morning cartoon before finally becoming a “law.”
And, since there will be some new legislators next year, it stands to reason nothing will happen between now and 2020, if at all.
The rationale is sound in that nobody wants to see kids vape. Ask the vast majority of adults who smoke when they started and they will say in their teens. Teenagers live in an odd dichotomy — they know everything and are so stupid.
That’s why there are already so many restrictions on tobacco products already and even more on flavored e-cigarettes and e-liquid. For example, any convenience store can sell cigarettes and tobacco flavored e-cigarettes, but only stores that restrict entrance to customers at least 21 years old can sell the flavored stuff.
Cunningham said there is “irrefutable data” of the correlation between a 2009 federal ban on flavored tobacco products and the decline of youth smoking. But, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of teen cigarette smokers has steadily decreased from 25 percent in 1996 to less than 4 percent in 2018.
Yes, the number of vaping teens has increased, but adults banning flavored products won’t do anything but make them more attractive to teens. At least that’s how it was when I was a teen, and I don’t think human nature has changed that much.
Jim Franco can be reached at 518-878-1000 or by email at [email protected]
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