In the spirit of intolerance, I have to draw this little piece of public policy to wider attention. Where I live, the local governments have imposed a bag tax: 5 cents for (paper and plastic) disposable bags, whether in supermarkets or other retail outlets. (Including paper bags is a bit bizarre, I find, especially as some of these are Forest Stewardship Certified, made from recycled waste, and presumably easily recycled or biodegradable. Such is the politics of environment policy, though.) You actually get an equivalent discount for using your own shopping bags. A wonderful idea to deal with the environmental problems that would be posed when these bags are added to trash, especially in local waterways? Well, not quite. Whenever you shop in these same areas, and want to buy fruit and vegetables, you are encouraged, even obliged in most cases, to put them into…disposable plastic bags. These produce bags are not special or biodegradable, though often in a cute shade of light green.
Now, I went to the supermarket this weekend, I loaded up with the healthful fruit and veg, and the cashier dutifully loaded all of my plastic bags of vegetables into my shopping bags–about 7 additional plastic bags. For that, I had no extra charge to face. I imagine that if these produce bags were also to face a fee the uproar would be deafening. But, the impact seems about the same to me. I try to be a good citizen and dispose of plastic as best as I can in some form of recycling scheme, so I feel socially responsible. But, are we seeing public officials trying to put their proverbial tails somewhere where it does not belong?