Poisonous Greenery

More unintended consequences:

Recently, many jurisdictions have implemented bans or imposed taxes upon plastic grocery bags on environmental grounds. San Francisco County was the first major US jurisdiction to enact such a regulation, implementing a ban in 2007. There is evidence, however, that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria. We examine emergency room admissions related to these bacteria in the wake of the San Francisco ban. We find that ER visits spiked when the ban went into effect. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increase by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.

I’m never surprised when environmentalist policies kill people, because many of them hate people, but in this case, it probably is an unintended consequence. Because they never think these things through. Manhattan Beach passed one of these idiot bans recently, but at least they can still use paper bags. Of course, it didn’t affect Trader Joe’s at all. And I usually shop in Redondo, where Albertson’s still offers plastic.

And yes, I know that the problem is mitigated by washing the canvas bags each time. How many people want to do that (plus having to remember to take them)?

9 thoughts on “Poisonous Greenery

  1. jrman

    so is it still a net environmental benefit after washing? (water, maybe hot water, soap, power for a washing machine maybe)

  2. JJS

    So let’s see…It takes more resources to create, further resources to clean, and in at least a large percentage of the time they are left at home. So my choice, the paper bag, used for generations is actually the wiser choice both environmentally and economically? It’s as if the environmental crowd was wrong about plastic bags and wrong about reusable? Is that possible?

  3. Thomas Matula

    The problem with paper bags is that with the bans on wood burning fireplaces there is no practical way to dispose of them other than the land fill. Hmmm, aren’t environmentalists responsible for those wood burning bans too?

    1. Ed in Elmhurst

      I don’t know about other jurisdictions, but here in NYC paper bags go into the same “paper recyclables” hopper as old newspapers, magazines, junk mail, etc., etc…… Is this not so everywhere that recycling programs exist????

      1. Edward Wright

        I use them as kitchen gargage bags, then throw them out with the garbage.

        Interesting that Tom worries about paper bags ending up in the landfill, since they’re mainly cellulose. They’ll decay over time, and if it takes a while — well, you’ve just removed a bit of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere temporarily. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?

        In fact, if you’re worried about CO2 emissions, you should grow as many trees as possible, cut them down as soon as they mature, then then bury them before they have a chance to decompose. What was the argument for recycling again?

  4. Bill Hensley

    Actually, Thomas, as long as the timber companies replant after harvesting the trees used to create the paper bags, then burying the paper bags in a landfill is actually a great way to sequester carbon. Same thing with newspapers. Really, I wonder when the greens are going to catch on to the AGW-fighting benefits of landfills.

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