Being liberal, an Austinite, and environmentally aware, I am very supportive of this measure, but I find that when I now enter a grocery and/or convenience store to get one item and end up with thirty while staring in horror at smug checker, I become surprisingly conservative, and also, pro-landfill like you would not believe. I'm ready to dig some myself, lets put it that way, and hey, the future can suck it.
This is the city of saving a salamander that isn't entirely visible to the naked eye unless presented on colored paper (exaggeration. maybe.), I get that. I'm not actually opposed to gradual reduction of single-use plastic, though I want to point out, they aren't single use--they are mulitple use. Plastic bags are perfect for bathroom trash cans, for quick clean-ups of the house, for school projects, for insta-use lunch bags--I mean, I personally get a lot of wear out of them.
Paper bags? I LOVE SINGLE USE PAPER BAGS. They show you shop at high-end grocery stores while also being (limitedly) environmentally conscious, they work in a jiffie for drawing paper and backing for drawings, they're emergency construction paper and bookcovers, and also, they're hearken to the halcyon days of yore whereas as a child I carried them for my grandmother.
The thing is, this is Austin, and why increment when you can shove it down people's throats all at once? It's annoying, especially since as of March 1st, resuable bags were jacked up by 400% because that helps, really. It's also--SURPRISE!--a problem for those who are poor or on various social services, the elderly, and the disabled, because reusable bags are $4.00 a pop in some places; and they need to be washed but it's new enough to a lot of people--read a lot of fucking people--to wash their bags.
And I say this as someone who comes from a family with reusable bags, including ones especially for frozen food. We do it a lot, just sometimes not when we're only running to the store for juice and realize we need coffee, sugar, and there's a sale on mini-wheats. (When I travel now, I buy my mother reusable grocery bags. My next goal is to get one for her from Trader Joe's, since I forgot the last time I was in a state with a Trader Joe's.)
Actually, I know a lot of countries already have something like this in place and find this weird to consider not knowing, but the thing is, this isn't just a change of reusable to non-reusable--this is trying to create a mindset that allows an overhaul of the entire pre-, during-, and post-grocery shopping experience.
It's buying reusable bags, which is highly expensive right now, but okay, that much we can all do; we can shop, and hey, we can express our individuality by being like everyone else. Pack them in the vehicle, good to go. Take them into your store of choice, got it, you forget you run to get them out of the trunk, annoying, but okay. Bring them home, not so bad. Unpack, sure.
Wash them? This step will be hard to remember. Specialize your bags to decrease the wear and tear on bags that will hold dry goods and non-meat and non-dairy and non-frozen--really? Realize some bags can't be washed or fall apart in three or four washes, yes that was fun.
Get them back to the car--yeah, good luck, no one remembers that, and dude, I hope you don't take the bus or something to the grocery store and leave them on the table.
Better idea: surcharge the goddamn bags for a year or so. Go all paper. Work people into the anti-disposable bag theory knowing that you're working against decades of retail conditioning and making a massive change in behavior. And be aware we all become very, very fucking conservative at eleven at night at the local convenience store and our items number greater than five.
Also? Four dollars a reusable bag? You are fucking with me.
I actually do not know how this is gonna go, possibly because Austin is also weirdly contrary sometimes and Austinites are, on a whole, fans of opposing things for reasons. So while even if the city doesn't back down and the legislature takes some kind of Protect The Plastic Bag measure state-wide, Austinites will immediately--we do this--immediately remember we are a lone island of dark blue sanity in a virulent red state (dude, go with it) and turn anti-plastic bag like it had unprotected missionary sex in the dark with our mothers. Because we are not only Greener Than Thou, we are also Greener In Opposition To Thou, which is how we ended up with special nearly-invisible salamander protection.
Disclaimer: I am generalizing and simplifying the salamander issue (though not by much) and also, making sweeping, sweeping, sweeping generalizations. I also had to carry ten items in my hands from a convenience store today because I forgot the bag issue and left my purse at home and it was not fun.
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