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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Corvallis plastic bag ban and gay marriage

Plastic ban letter next to gay marriage letter Gazette-Times, Jan. 8, 2013, p. A9

PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) A coincidental, but amusing editor's layout of a letter by Roger Paul, "Opponents of gay marriage are employing faulty logic," Gazette-Times, Jan. 8, 2013, p. A9 right next to my letter on the Corvallis plastic bag ban: Thomas Kraemer, "Poulation growth still biggest environmental problem we face," Gazette-Times, posted Jan. 8, 2013, p. A9. I am usually the one writing the letters on gay marriage! UPDATE 1/12/13: somebody else thought this layout was good and said it made a good case for gay marriage: Aaron Brown, "made convincing case for same-sex marriage," Gazette-Times, posted Jan. 11, 2013 -- also a crazy letter by Chuck Wenstrom, "Letter: Same-sex marriage proponents set man’s laws above those of God," Gazette-Times, posted Jan. 11, 2013

I am celebrating still being alive in 2013 and still able to write a few things despite my worsening stroke symptoms, including low vision blindness. The new law in Corvallis banning paper grocery bags is one of those feel-good environmental laws that are hard to take seriously because they ignore the root problem and do little for the environment. Coincidentally, the 1970's idea of sustainable population growth was the topic of a talk mentioned in the article by Staff, "Earth Year: How do we find a sustainable path to follow?" posted Jan. 2, 2013. These two events covered in my local newspaper prompted me to write the following letter to the editor:

The ban on plastic bags in Corvallis is not going to significantly alter my behavior because I always asked for paper bags and reused them to bundle my other paper recyclables, such as newspapers and letters, before tossing them in the curbside collection tub. I'll grudgingly pay a nickel to keep doing this because it prevents litter flying away from loose papers when the robotic grab arm tosses the recycle tub's contents into the garbage truck.

Paper bag fees are another example of nickel and dime nuisance fees being increasingly passed onto customers, such as airline fees, which were previously included in the service. Fees accomplish little other than enriching a few and irritating everyone, because they ignore the root problem of unsustainable consumption due to excessive population growth.

Zero population growth used to be a widely supported goal, but it is opposed by greedy Wall Street plutocrats who also reward companies for building products that must be thrown out frequently. If legislators sincerely cared about the environment, they would require manufacturers to sincerely make products that were supportable and repairable for decades.

I am old enough to recall when the word "sanitized" was still printed on grocery bags before society became overly dependent on antiseptics and antibiotics, which has tragically led to resistant strains of pathogens. I bet most reusable grocery bags will become dirty and a vector for diseases. (Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Poulation growth still biggest enviromental problem we face," Gazette-Times, posted Jan. 8, 2013, p. A9)

A previous letter writer made a similar point: Milt Weaver, "Bag ban will bring a load of unintended consequences," Gazette-Times, Jab. 2, 2012, p. A7.

The newspaper editor also published the following comment that a checker at Safeway told me she loved reading:

"RASPBERRIES to the people who are taking out their frustrations over Corvallis' bag ban on local cashiers. They are not the ones who enacted the ban on plastic check-out bags at stores that have more than 50 employees. Working directly with the public is among the most difficult of tasks on any day, but even more so when you are in charge of implementing a plan you had no hand in crafting. Please remember that, and remember to bring in your reusable bags when you shop. Keeping them in a container in the trunk is a way to keep them clean and handy." (Quoted from "Editorial: Roses and Raspberries," Gazette-Times, Jan. 4, 2013)

Also see the following:

One thing I haven't heard yet is the likely increase in ergonomic injuries to grocery store checkers because the customer supplied bags may not be designed right to prevent injury given their workstation height, etc.

UPDATE posted Jan. 20, 3013:

black collapsible crate (left) next to red browsing baskets sold by Demco library supply in back of car

PHOTO: Although I will continue buying paper grocery bags to put my other paper recyclables in to keep them from blowing away when the truck picks it up, I decided to buy a commercial grade shopping basket that I could use for small purchases. I bought it at a professional library supply house because I already had an account there to buy supplies for my home library. I bought one of the Collapsible Crates sold by Demco for $21.94 (See Interlibrary Loan products at Demco) and two of the Browsing Baskets sold by Demco for $18.54 (See Patron Browsing products at Demco) Demco Madison, WI 53707 Phone 1-800-279-1586 that are made by: The Big Basket Company GoodL Corp., P.O. Box 337, Lavergne, TN 37087 -- The Big Basket Company (Download PDF Brochure)

I wrote the follow up letter on the ergonomic injury issue, faced by grocery clerks, which the bag fee will probably aggravate:

It is sadly ironic that an Albany paper mill, which made stock for paper grocery bags, shut down production and eliminated local jobs shortly before the City of Corvallis banned plastic grocery bags.

We Corvallis liberals, who religiously "buy local," are anguished that the mandated five cent per bag fee is discouraging the use of locally made, environmentally correct, recyclable paper bags. Worse, the five cent bag fee is causing some to irrationally waste gas by driving to Albany or Philomath, where being pro-choice is more than just about abortion.

More seriously, I believe the Corvallis plastic bag ban will lead to an increased incident of repetitive stress injuries among Corvallis grocery store clerks because stores won't be able to replace check stands with ones ergonomically engineered to prevent RSI with the wide variety of reusable bags owned by customers. RSI is a real problem for workers, despite the fact that company health insurance plans often treat it as a mental disorder or an act of malingering worthy of being fired.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Bag ban ill-advised," Gazette-Times, Jan. 20, 2013, p. C5)

Also, see the following links: