Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paper or .... anything but plastic.

In its ongoing effort to improve living conditions for all humynkind (not humankind, that's sexist and patriarchal), San Francisco has banned grocery bags made of petroleum-based plastics. At this point, many grocery stores (at least in California) provide for such bags to be recycled. San Franciscans want to go the extra mile and eliminate them altogether. Unfortunately, we do not yet have an equally economical or (necessarily) more environmentally friendly alternative yet.

There is a corn-based plastic bag, which is expensive to produce, and potentially takes corn away from the supply that would otherwise be eaten (thereby making the price of corn go up, harming poor people in third world countries for whom corn is often a staple) but it is at least biodegradable. Then there are paper bags, which are the cheapest option, but as is noted in the article:

Craig Noble, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it would be disappointing if grocers rejected the biodegradable plastic bag option, since more trees would have to be cut down if paper bag use increases.

The final option is the reusable canvas grocery bag, which are already sold to customers of stores like Sprouts and Trader Joe's for about $2 each. While these can be convenient when used one or two at a time to supplement paper and/or plastic bags, single people who prefer monthly grocery runs and non-singles who have families to feed will probably not be too keen on hauling a dozen or more of these with them on every shopping trip.

It looks as though we have a choice here between convenience and the environment. San Francisco, for the most part, consistently expresses a preference for the environment, even in the smallest matters.

Which reminds me, I recently posted on the environmental hazards of synthetic female hormones being excreted into aquatic habitats, and the attending environmental hazards from all of the extra garbage that comes from other forms of artificial birth control. This California-bred girl would love to see what the folks in 'Frisco think of that environmental hazard.

A nod to Bill.
For more commentary on San Francisco and the government thereof, read Michelle's blog.


Michelle said...

Actually, Nugget (a grocery store chain based in the Sacramento area) has started providing one free reusable grocery tote made of recycled plastic (when you join their customer's club, of course). Plus, I don't know about all of you, but I reuse my plastic grocery bags as wastebasket liners. The citizens of S.F. will now have to spend money to purchase said petroleum-based product.

Speaking of petroleum-based products, I wonder when they will start to ban the following items:
sneakers, vehicle tires, pretty much anything made of synthetic rubber (including certain types of apparel and the kind of toys not found at the Toys 'R Us), and even pharmeceutical supplies.

Christina said...

I love nugget stores.

I also love using old plastic grocery bags as trash can liners, and for other trash-holding purposes. They can also come in handy for cleanup after pets, if one has those.