Plastic: No Longer in the Bag

Even as state governments fall in line to legalize marijuana, they’re beginning the legislative process to ban plastic bags, all in the name of environmental correctness.  Soon, the ubiquitous plastic bag will join the efficient light bulb in the Progressive Museum of Capitalist Tools.

In the 1967 movie, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman offers his middle-aged seductress, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) a coat hanger.  “Wood or wire?” he asks.  “They have both.”  Today, we have three.  Both the plastic bag and the wire hanger accumulate like dust balls until you’re overwhelmed by them.  Later in the film, a friend of recent college graduate Benjamin some career advice:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire was right.  Plastics was the future.  In 1967, plastic held a double-meaning; an artificial life, “plastic” life, one that could be molded into anything and, as it turns, last forever.  Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean floats “Plastic Island” composed completely of plastic materials that will take millions of years to decompose.  The plastic has somehow molded together and formed a strange, new kind of landmass.

As always, Progressivism Meets Pragmatism.  The bags can now be recycled, alas for the Progressives, but good for consumers who find themselves awash in plastic bags.  Entrepreneurs have profited by the plastic recycling, foiling the plans of anti-Capitalist enviro-wackos to return us to the days of The Shire.

So Progressives have managed to get a bill passed through the New Jersey State Environmental Commission in December which would result in a 5-cent fee to shoppers for paper and plastic bags.  If it passes and Gov. Christie signs it, the bill will be renamed the “Reduce Plastic and Paper Bag Usage Act.”  The bill would become law in the Garden State on Jan. 1, 2014.  In 2015, business would be prohibited from using non-recyclable paper or plastic bags.

For some time now, stores have been offering their own shopping bags.  I have quite a collection of them.  They frequently sell for 99 cents and you could anywhere from two to five cents off your shopping bill for using them.  The trick is buying enough of the bags, especially if you have a large family, and remember to bring them with you when you go shopping.

There is a hidden agenda to the fee on using paper and plastic bags:  The Environment Commission intends to use the funds to clean up Barnegat Bay.  In other words, what we will be paying is yet another tax.  As for consumers, most of “repurpose” these bags for everything from our work lunches to cleaning out the cat litter box.  Without the shopping bags, we will be forced to buy expensive plastic bags for kitty cat leavings, wastebaskets, and other clean-up jobs. 

A complete ban on plastics could come to pose a serious threat to our economy.  Packaging firms (like my new company) would have to turn to glass, increasing the cost of production astronomically.  One of the selling-points of plastic was its safety.  I remember the days of glass bottles as a child and more than one heavy bottle slipping from my grasp onto the bathroom or kitchen floor.

Plastics have made the world a safer place.  Not on automobiles, of course, but in household products, they’ve been the one-word miracle material Mr. McGuire whispered in Dustin Hoffman’s ear way back in 1967.

Are you listening?




Published in: on February 4, 2013 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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