On Saturday, I was able to spend some quality time with a buddy of mine from Oregon who was in the San Diego area to help paint her daughter’s place.
She cut-in while I manned the roller. After awhile, the 106 degree temperatures caught up with us and we took a break. She asked her daughter for a plastic bag to store her brush so it wouldn’t dry out and was shocked at what she was handed.
Expecting to receive one of those light weight “single use” ‘plastic’ bags, she held up the hefty, thick brown Ralph’s grocery store plastic bag, looked at me and asked, “What the heck is this?”
I replied with something like, ‘Oh, this is the plastic bag that replaced the other plastic bags that we outlawed in California after the plastic bags that we began using to replace the paper bags in order to save the trees were outlawed.’
You can understand while she might have been … amused.
Welcome to the utter conceit of California’s plastic bag politics.
By way of background, the so-called “single use” bags that my friend wanted to reuse as a temporary paint brush repository and then recycle were outlawed in the November election.
Big Green activists and their bag men in California’s legislature assured us that we must ban the bags because people weren’t really reusing and recycling the bags. That, and some sea turtle was caught eating those bags for dinner in a huge plastic bag garbage patch twice the size of Texas off the West Coast of America in a plastic bag storm.
OK, all of those dire stories didn’t occur at the same time but – and this is an added bonus – they were all equally bogus claims.
California voters passed Proposition 67 by a significant margin of 53% to 47%. The measure codified Senate Bill 270, which itself was the brainchild of Senate Democrats and signed into law by – speaking of recycling – Governor Jerry Brown.
The initiative was put on the ballot in order to thwart an attempt by plastic bag manufacturers to keep producing and selling in California the ubiquitous, wispy thin and surprisingly strong grocery holding, dog poop scooping, dirty diaper conveying, “single use” “plastic” bag that were doing the earth so much alleged harm.
Stories about what these bags do to the environment have changed over time since the initial outlandish claims of garbage patches “twice the size of Texas” in the Pacific Ocean and the rush to reproduce the original phony sea-turtle-eating-a-plastic-bag photo.
I once had a true believer state lawmaker swear to me on my radio show that she’d been driving on Interstate 5 when the skies opened up and she was caught in a “plastic bag storm.” When I inquired about the likelihood of a wet bag ‘flying’ anywhere she doubled down on her claim. Oddly, no one else in recorded history has ever reported being caught in a plastic bag storm.
The horrible “plastic” bags that have been banned aren’t even plastic as we know the term. They’re made from ethane, a by product of natural gas. If that gas by-product weren’t used to make bags it would just be burned off into the atmosphere.
Ultimately, when all the hyperventilated claims are stripped away, the bag ban comes down to people being upset over littering. Plastic bags aren’t even the most littered item, so even the basis of that claim is suspect. I don’t like cleaning up leaves in the fall, but you don’t hear me calling for banning trees. And wet leaves clog more storm drains than plastic bags.
So now Californians have three choices. We can pay for the Big Green approved “reusable” bags, which are known in my house as the E.coli bags, pay 10 cents for a paper bag or we can spend 10 cents each for – wait for it – an even thicker plastic bag.
Which brings us exactly back to where we were when this whole thing started.
Victoria Taft is a radio talk show host, contributor to the One America News show “The Daily Ledger,” podcaster and writer for Independent Journal Review.