Maui Bag Ban

by lphawaii

MauiLandfill-beforePlasticBagBan

I recently took a trip to Minnesota, and the first thing I said when I got there was, “Take me to the grocery store!”  See, what Minnesotains don’t realize is that the grocery store is actually one of the best parts of the northern state.  The price of every item is many dollars less than what I’m used to paying for on Maui.  Even the price of coconuts is cheaper!  But what I was most excited about when going through the check out was the plastic bags.

“Oh my gosh!” I cried out, “Bags! Wonderful, beautiful, plastic bags!”

People forget how nice plastic bags are.  They’re so strong and light weight.  You can loop five of them around your fingers and carry a ton of groceries.  But have you ever tried to carry a paper bag?  It rips almost every time.  Try carrying five bags at once.  It’s almost impossible.  They just rip ever so slightly, and that rip just gets larger and larger with every step.  Usually, by the time I get up three flights of stairs, they are almost completely demolished by the time I get home.  My groceries spill out all over the floor of my apartment.

Now I know what you’re thinking – why doesn’t he just use one of those reusable bags?  Well, that’s a good idea.  But I have reusable bags.  I have about ten of them, and I just never end up using them.  Usually, I go to the grocery store when I’m not really expecting to.  Maybe on the way home, and I think, “ah, I need bread, and eggs.”  Then I realize that I forgot to put those bags in my car again, and I have to go to the store, and they ask, “Would you like to buy some reusable bags?” and I think – I already have ten of them!

I went to Wal-mart on Maui the other day, and I saw a long line of people exiting with their groceries.  None of them had remembered to bring a bag.

Even if I do remember, they’re just annoying to carry around.  I don’t like carrying ten reusable bags around the mall.  I look like a hobo!  And what if I don’t bring enough bags?  Or worse yet, what if I brought too many, and I didn’t end up buying anything?  Then I just wasted all this time carrying ten bags all over the mall.

Bags need to be washed.  Reusable bags get meat or a little piece of food inside, and some people forget to wash them.  Bacteria related deaths tend to spike after a bag ban.  Do you like saving the environment?  How about making everyone wash ten more bags in their laundry, with all the added soap and water.

I know, I know, it’s all for the greater good.  The Maui bag ban movement started when a news article was posted about plastic bags flying out of the garbage dump on Maui.  The wind would blow so hard that the bags would just carry away for miles.  It was so bad that the roads were littered with plastic bags, and so were the oceans.  Fish and wildlife were getting caught in the bags, and the reefs were suffering.  It was a big problem.

But I just wonder, who’s responsible for plastic bags that fly out of a garbage dump?  Shouldn’t that be the garbage dump’s fault?  After all, if the bags are flying out of the dump, then that presumably means people are actually trying to throw them away.  But because the garbage dump can’t handle a windy day, no one gets to have any bags.

In a way, I see the bag ban as not really doing enough.  It’s a band aid solution to a bigger problem – that trash is blowing out of the landfill.  Banning shopping bags doesn’t stop trash from blowing out of the landfill.  It only stops shopping bags from blowing out.  But what about candy wrappers or chips bags?  How about scraps of paper?  What about zip-lock bags, or cellophane?  The sides of the roads on Maui are still littered with all kinds of trash that blows out near the landfill.

Maybe the real solution is to just sue the landfill.

In the meantime, I guess I have to get used to a life without bags again.  If banning bags really does protect animals and the ocean, then I guess that’s fine.  But I still have the right to be thoroughly annoyed whenever I go shopping.  And I really do wonder if the bag ban is leading people to believe that the landfill problem is fixed, and distracting us from an even better solution.

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