San Francisco's environmental commission is contemplating "an ordinance requiring a 17-cent fee on each bag provided at supermarket checkout counters to reduce the proliferation of unnecessary bags and provide funds to mitigate the negative impacts caused by them." In order to remain calm about the proposed ordinance, one must understand the facts.
Paul Goettlich, who wrote this story for the Open Forum section of today's San Francisco Chronicle, says that the city spends "tens of millions of dollars annually" cleaning up the mess of grocery bags littered across San Francisco. C'mon Paul, are you serious? There are many who would argue that San Francisco doesn't spend tens of millions of dollars cleaning up anything, much less grocery bags. That number is just unbelievable.
Not included in the reckoning of the 17-cent fee are the direct effects of the bag litter on a wide range of public programs. In addition, there are six times more plastic particles than plankton by weight floating around in the middle of the Pacific; there are two such floating-plastic garbage patches in the Pacific that are each the size of Texas. The plastic fragments collect pollutants, which are biomagnified up the food chain when they are mistaken for planktonic food, according to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
Two "floating-plactic garbage patches in the Pacific that are each the size of Texas"? I've got to see these!
Paul Goettlich is an analyst and writer on technology and health issues for Mindfully.org based in Berkeley. Mindfully.org, by the way, does not believe that the twin towers of The World Trade Center were brought down by jet airliners, but rather, it was "a demolition job".