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trymahjong

Will COH ban single use plastic bags

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Where I used to live had a bag ban. It seemed inconvenient for a day or so, but after that it was never a very big deal. Just get reusable bags.

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I don't have a problem with a ban of this sort. Something has to be done to reduce landfill growth. Granted, we live in a land of relatively low density, but steps have to be taken before they're needed - otherwise, we risk becoming a Naples (or even NYC).

I'd also be in support of mandatory recycling (of all items), but this would never fly in the current environment; instead, I just do my part.

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Plastic grocery bags get reused - scooping the cat's litter box, and for small bedroom/bathroom trashcans around the house

Ban small trashbags, and I'd be forced to use a full garbage bag for those tasks which would end up sending more plastic to the landfill.

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Plastic grocery bags get reused - scooping the cat's litter box, and for small bedroom/bathroom trashcans around the house

Ban small trashbags, and I'd be forced to use a full garbage bag for those tasks which would end up sending more plastic to the landfill.

Maybe this would spur a whole new industry of decomposable pet crap bags. We could make millions!

They already have small bags, just not compostable...

300.jpg

Just more money to spend. However, I understand the problem with these grocery bags clogging up everything.

Edited by RedScare

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I'm fine with this. You will still be able to buy cheap plastic bags if you must have them. I prefer cloth bags for groceries since they can hold more stuff and they don't tear and fall apart.

Also, I've frequently noticed a flotilla of garbage in the inlet to Buffalo Bayou in Eleanor Tinsley Park and on the surrounding trees following a flood. I support minimal efforts like this if they will help reduce the problem.

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Plastic grocery bags get reused - scooping the cat's litter box, and for small bedroom/bathroom trashcans around the house

Ban small trashbags, and I'd be forced to use a full garbage bag for those tasks which would end up sending more plastic to the landfill.

I also reuse them daily. I use them for trash in my house, I bring my lunch to work in them, I take diapers out with them, wet clothes get packed in them, dog food travels in them, you name it...I use them constantly....not only that, I take about 80% of them back to the store and dump them in the recycling for them at the store just because I get more than I can use.

I admittedly am not a big recycler, but these bags get lots of use at my house and what is not used gets recycled when I get sick of seeing them on the floor of my pantry.

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Maybe this would spur a whole new industry of decomposable pet crap bags. We could make millions!

They already have small bags, just not compostable...

Just more money to spend. However, I understand the problem with these grocery bags clogging up everything.

So.. if these small Glad bags too are non-compostable.. and it's relatively the same size.. and they are both going to end up in a landfill... it's a wash.

I understand the concern as well... i just don't appreciate the eco side of the argument that fails to appreciate that these bags aren't one-time use.

Looks like someone beat you to your pet crap bag idea ....

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One thing I notice in the US (having lived and visited extensively abroad) is that we don't really use trash compactors in the home and we also don't separate our organic matter from the rest of our trash. I suspect the latter change alone would have a significant impact on landmill mass - even without the usage of home-based compost heaps.

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Maybe this would spur a whole new industry of decomposable pet crap bags. We could make millions!

They already have small bags, just not compostable...

300.jpg

Just more money to spend. However, I understand the problem with these grocery bags clogging up everything.

Compostable pet waste bags are already available at pet stores:

http://www.petco.com...Waste-Bags.aspx

I think these are the same kind that are dispensed at the dog runs at Discovery Green and the park across from the Menil Collection.

That said, the regular plastic bags get reused constantly in our household as well. They don't stay around long, as 60-pound dogs tend to crap a lot. It's nothing for us to go through a couple of bags on one walk.

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I am all for banning plastic bags, I personally am tired of seeing all the garbage that irresponsible people toss onto the ground and getting rid of plastic bags will reduce a good portion of that garbage.

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I am all for banning plastic bags, I personally am tired of seeing all the garbage that irresponsible people toss onto the ground and getting rid of plastic bags will reduce a good portion of that garbage.

Banning the bags will do little to stem the litter everywhere. Bags make up very little of the litter I see....unfortunately littering is culturally ingrained into many of the residents of Houston....some folks do not even realize that littering is ugly or illegal....the ban is not designed to stem littering its designed to cut down on the amount of plastic waste that goes into our landfills....at least that is my interpretation of it.

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Banning the bags will do little to stem the litter everywhere. Bags make up very little of the litter I see....unfortunately littering is culturally ingrained into many of the residents of Houston....some folks do not even realize that littering is ugly or illegal....the ban is not designed to stem littering its designed to cut down on the amount of plastic waste that goes into our landfills....at least that is my interpretation of it.

Not to change subject, but it's not a problem with houstonians littering, it's a problem with human nature. I've been many places from south America, to Europe, and Asia (well, asia Pacific) litter is all over everywhere.

I'm not for banning anything, from softdrinks to these plastic bags, people just need to have their arms cut off when they litter.

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Not to change subject, but it's not a problem with houstonians littering, it's a problem with human nature. I've been many places from south America, to Europe, and Asia (well, asia Pacific) litter is all over everywhere.

I'm not for banning anything, from softdrinks to these plastic bags, people just need to have their arms cut off when they litter.

Last time I was in Calgary, I was amazed how little litter there was. It is one of the cleanest large cities I have ever seen....It was very clean....I really enjoyed Calgary too...I may have to go back.

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Canadiens. I dig them. They're super clean and polite. If they could just annex a Caribbean island (Caymans?) I'd think about moving.

As for the bags, I have my own ban in place. I've been carrying a man purse for 2 years now. It's a big, green, Central Market bag with the insulated lining inside. It's my gym bag. My Cougar game day beer cooler (holds 24 easy). It's my carry around at all times bag so I can say "no thanks, I don't need a bag" and throw all my Walgreens crap inside. It's my I'm heading to swim at a friend's house so I can stick my trunks and wet towel in it when I head home.

Everyone should get one. I literally don't leave home without it now.

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Canadiens. I dig them. They're super clean and polite. If they could just annex a Caribbean island (Caymans?) I'd think about moving.

As for the bags, I have my own ban in place. I've been carrying a man purse for 2 years now. It's a big, green, Central Market bag with the insulated lining inside. It's my gym bag. My Cougar game day beer cooler (holds 24 easy). It's my carry around at all times bag so I can say "no thanks, I don't need a bag" and throw all my Walgreens crap inside. It's my I'm heading to swim at a friend's house so I can stick my trunks and wet towel in it when I head home.

Everyone should get one. I literally don't leave home without it now.

Can you use it to clean the cat box?

For me, I use flushable litter, rather than bagging it. Even if I didn't have that id find a way to get around using the plastic bags. Maybe one of those hard plastic buckets to carry the catpoo.

For every task someone uses plastic bags for today there was a time (20 years ago, or so) people did everything without them.

I switched away from them of my own volition and my life has not been negatively impacted yet.

I also stopped buying any drink that come in plastic bottles.

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Canadiens. I dig them. They're super clean and polite. If they could just annex a Caribbean island (Caymans?) I'd think about moving.

I believe the exact opposite is true of Toronto. I don't know if it was Jax or Editor.. but I seem to remember previous discussions of overflowing trashcans being an issue there cuz people stopped giving a damn. Perhaps I remember wrong; hopefully one of them will chime in.

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We used to have paper grocery sacks of all sizes. The largest paper grocery sack would fit in a trash can and was used for garbage. My mom did that all the time. The medium size paper bags were great for my dad's lunches and the smaller ones were used for all of the kids' lunches. She was being thrifty, there was no cry to recycle yet.

When we'd have paper drives at school, a large stack of newspapers would easily fit into one of the largest paper grocery sacks and was stackable. Some folks did prefer to tie the stacks in string though. I know, I know, I'm dating myself. Paper drive, what's that?

When my kids were babies, before most grocery stores went to all plastic (remember "paper or plastic?"), I used to save plastic bread wrappers to use for their soiled diapers. My friends with babies would look at me like I was silly. I'd have to explain that I didn't want to put a dirty diaper in someone's trash can and by putting it in a bread wrapper, I could take it home to dispose of it. The added benefit was that if it was tightly knotted in the bread wrapper, there was no foul urine odor in the trash. Now, there's all sorts of fancy diaper trash cans with odor eliminators. Imagine that!

I've been using those reusable grocery bags for about 4 years. I like that they hold more items than one of the plastic grocery sacks and one or two of my bags have long enough handles that I can throw it over my shoulder and have both hands free to carry an additional 4 bags. The fewer trips to the car the better I like it.

The biggest problem I see is that so few people use the reusable bags, not every grocery clerk knows how to properly load them. Some sackers want to put 2 or 3 items in each bag and call it a day. Then they immediately reach for plastic and I have to remind them that all my groceries will fit nicely in the bags I've brought.

I even have a dandy reusable bag for wine. It will easily hold 6 bottles, 7 in a pinch.

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Why not just use paper bags?

Paper bags: Compostable. Made in America. Made from reforestable wood. Old-fashioned.

Reusable Bags: Get dirty really quickly and have to be washed, thus becoming worn-out. Made in some sweatshop overseas.

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I do ask them to put meat products in plastic first and I have 2 bags dedicated for those purchases. Produce is in the thin plastic bags supplied in that department so they don't present a problem. I'm aware that there could be cross contamination and I do put my reusable bags in the washer. With canned goods and bags of frozen vegetables, I don't worry so much.

The primary reason I like the reusable bags is that they hold so much more than plastic bags. They are just easier for me to deal with.

Iron Tiger,

Please tell me where I might find a store that uses made in America paper bags.

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Please tell me where I might find a store that uses made in America paper bags.

That's probably going to be anywhere you can find a store that still offers paper bags. Paper and paper products are one of the few things we still have a pretty good lock on. Even the Chinese import paper from us.

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I received an email from a city council member stating that a motion to address plastic bags (potentially banning them) passed by a vote of 14-3 and will move on for vetting and public input.

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"Addressing" plastic bags is a noble cause. Banning them is not (you COULD tax them). Austin's approach, spending tons of money on "education" about the ban, is, pardon the pun, garbage.

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"Addressing" plastic bags is a noble cause. Banning them is not (you COULD tax them). Austin's approach, spending tons of money on "education" about the ban, is, pardon the pun, garbage.

there is another thread concerning Washington DC's $.05 tax on plastic bags (the money going to help clean up the Potomac River)-- apparently plastic bag useage after the tax was established went down. . . . . . .

http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/plastic-bags-used-in-dc-drop-from-22-million-to-3-million-a-month.html

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What you COULD do is do a deposit. About three cents do a 5 cent deposit on aluminum/carbonated products: return the product, get 5 cents. This seems to work, because 5 cents doesn't seem like all much. Michigan has 10 cents, which just encourages illegal activity (smuggling cans across the border), trying to rummage through dumpsters, and not much money gained (everyone returns them).

I can imagine why D.C. use has them going down: part of the reason is D.C. isn't really a huge shopping area. There's ONE Target in the district, no Walmarts or Kmarts.

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Interesting point in that article:

It found the “global warming potential” of plastic grocery bags is one-fourth that of paper bags and 1/173rd that of a reusable cotton bag. In other words, consumers would have to use a reusable cotton bag 173 times before they broke even from an energy standpoint. Thus, even if consumers switched to reusable bags, it is not clear there would be a reduced environmental impact.

most people visit the grocery store about once a week, so it would take less than 2 years for those bags to become energy efficient, that is if you never shop anywhere else that you could use reusable bags.

Myself, I go to the grocery store about once every 3-4 days, even if I only went every 4 days, I'd go to the grocery store 91 times a year. so after 2 years it would be carbon efficient for me to use a cotton reusable bag.

of course, they only reference cotton reusable bags and how long it takes to offset their use, not reusable bags made from other materials, or home-made reusable bags (then you just figure out what the carbon cost of your raw material is). this doesn't take into account that my reusable bag might fit more groceries than one plastic bag can hold, then we're talking about an even quicker timeline to carbon neutrality, and less waste on the back end.

either way, I agree with the main message of the article, which to me was, sensationalizing of the impact of things does more harm than good (see what it's done to AGW).

Edited by samagon

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I am far less exasperated by plastic bags than plastic bottles, but I don't much like seeing them caught in trees and barbed wire fences everywhere, or such dense flotillas of them in the water that turtles can sun themselves, so I followed the link on that junk science website to the UK study and found that, unsurprisingly, its most salient point was "overlooked." It stated that:

Whatever type of bag is used, the key to reducing the impacts is to reuse it as

many times as possible and where reuse for shopping is not practicable, other

reuse, e.g. to replace bin liners, is beneficial.

• The paper, LDPE, non-woven PP and cotton bags should be reused at least 3, 4,

11 and 131 times respectively to ensure that they have lower global warming

potential than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.

Few of us use cotton bags. The ones you get for a couple dollars from Randall's or HEB are the non-woven polypropylene kind and thus need be used just 11 times to trump an unreused plastic bag. The study didn't seem to take into account that one reusable bag is the equivalent of 3 plastic ones, but I admit I didn't read it that assiduously.

And I am going to quit taking out the trash and start emptying the bin because it sounds classier.

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I quit buying anything that comes in a plastic bottle. It was difficult since everything is sold in plastic bottles, but really isn't that hard once you get used to it.

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I quit buying anything that comes in a plastic bottle. It was difficult since everything is sold in plastic bottles, but really isn't that hard once you get used to it.

Are You helping anything by doing so? Switching to glass, for example, is causing more energy use to both produce and recycle than plastic.

http://www.wisegeek.com/does-plastic-or-glass-require-more-energy-to-recycle.htm

Even cartons are not good choices, since they are not recyclable, and making paper is very energy intensive. Like the plastic bag argument, you might just be a better steward of the planet by buying plastic jugs...as long as you religiously recycle them.

Quite the opposite of you, I tend to look for recyclable plastic over other packaging, precisely because I can recycle them easily. I recycle glass and metal too, but plastic is easier, mostly because the screw on cap is also plastic, and therefore keeps my recycle bin clean. Of course, the most efficient policy is to consume less. Next, is to reuse the product or packaging (sorry, I'll leave the unpackaged beans and rice to the granola eaters). Last, is recycling, and plastic uses the least energy to recycle, as well as to produce it in the first place. It is only bad if you throw it in the trash.

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It's plain that we generate far more waste now than we ever did pre-recycling, so I am generally hostile to the panacea of recycling, while yet avidly recycling everything possible (I can hold 2 opposing ideas in my head at once!). Samagon, we are kindred spirits: I do just as you do and shop with a "no plastic" ideal in mind, honored sometimes in the breach. Sour cream, for instance. But I could be making that myself with cream and buttermilk in a sterile jar left on the counter overnight, so I really have no excuse there.

I include your faithfully recycled plastics in that waste stream, RedScare, because they are not cycling into more containers but instead into nonrecyclable plastic things. In my view that's just a detour on their way to becoming the trash they were born to be.

Glass, particularly clear uncolored glass, recycles beautifully because of its simple materials, just as one would suspect.

Recycling alleviates guilt, and I don't take that as an entirely bad sign. It shows that people have internalized some feeling for the environment.

If anybody is recycling those plastic bags, though - well, y'all can skip that.

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Are You helping anything by doing so? Switching to glass, for example, is causing more energy use to both produce and recycle than plastic.

http://www.wisegeek....-to-recycle.htm

Even cartons are not good choices, since they are not recyclable, and making paper is very energy intensive. Like the plastic bag argument, you might just be a better steward of the planet by buying plastic jugs...as long as you religiously recycle them.

Quite the opposite of you, I tend to look for recyclable plastic over other packaging, precisely because I can recycle them easily. I recycle glass and metal too, but plastic is easier, mostly because the screw on cap is also plastic, and therefore keeps my recycle bin clean. Of course, the most efficient policy is to consume less. Next, is to reuse the product or packaging (sorry, I'll leave the unpackaged beans and rice to the granola eaters). Last, is recycling, and plastic uses the least energy to recycle, as well as to produce it in the first place. It is only bad if you throw it in the trash.

Well, I misspoke, I still buy milk in gallon sized plastic containers and drop those in the recycle bin, but I have a few aluminum bottles I pre-fill with water if I know where I'm going doesn't have water fountains. Beer, I prefer to drink what's on tap unless they only have crap beers on tap.

I follow the old conservation "3 Rs" with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and recycling being what you should do if you can't reduce, or reuse whatever it is. Which is what you reference. I think too many put too high of a value on recycle over the other 2 Rs of conservation.

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The Reduce aspect of the 3 R's was pretty quickly suppressed. I don't mean by that anything as literal as "Industry co-opted recycling" (though of course they did). No, I really believe calls for reduced consumption - just like, more significantly, concerns about population growth - are seen as counter to the prevailing (hundreds-of-years prevailing) humanism. To each according to the every desire of a few. The hipsters y'all are always going on about are conflicted on this point. Well, they were (briefly!); the argument's over. You're the first I've seen mention it in some time, Samagon.

I'm pretty much a blank slate on organic chemistry and have no idea how much energy is required to turn cellulose into plastic. Maybe we'll be using plastic forever.

Since there's a little market for aluminum cans, recycling aluminum must be worthwhile. I don't know anything about steel recycling, but I recycle several dozens tomato cans a year. Scrap metal generally always disappears within minutes on Bulky Item Pickup Day around here.

Randall's still has quarts of milk in paper (I could never get through a gallon of milk). Yes, it's more expensive per ounce. No, it's not more expensive than pouring a half-gallon of sour milk down the drain. Yes, sour milk can substitute for buttermilk in corn bread. It doesn't serve as well for biscuits.

Trees, sand: paper, glass. I tend to go for whatever seems simplest. Reusing a container as a container, not using something once and then pouring energy into turning it into something else. For this reason I save random plastic spoons: it was a useful plastic spoon five minutes ago, why is it trash now?

We will doubtless be chided for straying from the fascinating bag ban topic. I just want to reiterate that, ban or no, we've not lost our minds completely: a plastic bag is not more environmentally friendly than an old tote bag out of your closet, a tin pail, a bindle, or a brand-new non-woven polyproplylene bag.

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Recycling alleviates guilt, and I don't take that as an entirely bad sign. It shows that people have internalized some feeling for the environment.

What guilt? Yeah, I don't recycle anything at all...ever. Recycling is essentially unimportant at best, but is actually a further waste of resources in many cases.

The fact is, all of the nation's landfills would only take up the area of about one midwestern county. Moreover, the total amounts of refuse being sent to landfills per person has been on a long-term decline. Environmentalists would like to attribute that to recycling, but I attribute it to companies reducing the amount of weight and volume of their products and packaging as a cost-saving mechanism. The sort of folks that are genuinely interested in saving the world should commit themselves to a life of poverty with as little interaction with the economy as possible. Plant a garden and harvest road kill for loincloths.

And as for myself, I'm just one cog in a huge ancient unfeeling machine. It doesn't particularly care about me and I don't particularly care about it. It'll be there long after I've been worn down and replaced with a new cog. Might as well get what I can from it: my existence and a lube job now and then. There needn't be a cause, purpose, or delusion.

Edited by TheNiche

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Saving the world? I can't begin to think what that would mean, but sometimes I lack imagination. The world seems fine, much the same as ever.

Saving the planet? Also nebulous.

Saving species diversity and habitat? Contra The Niche, you should most certainly not waste time running over and roasting a squirrel, or if you must, make it a nutria; and the garden is your own affair. You should go to work doing whatever you do, then donate $$ or time to groups involved with purchasing, whether through fee simple or conservation easement, large amounts of habitat, or restoring that habitat where it has been lost (e.g.Texas).

You do sound interchangeable with all of the other cogs, The Niche. Your sheer numbers make you a potent force, though, however passive you may feel.

Oh, and .. plastic bags ... blah, blah, blah.

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Saving the world? I can't begin to think what that would mean, but sometimes I lack imagination. The world seems fine, much the same as ever.

Saving the planet? Also nebulous.

Saving species diversity and habitat? Contra The Niche, you should most certainly not waste time running over and roasting a squirrel, or if you must, make it a nutria; and the garden is your own affair. You should go to work doing whatever you do, then donate $$ or time to groups involved with purchasing, whether through fee simple or conservation easement, large amounts of habitat, or restoring that habitat where it has been lost (e.g.Texas).

I don't understand what it would mean to save the world, either. But that's my point about most such persons that would be interested in so fruitless an enterprise. They don't know what it means either. It's all just empty rhetoric and delusion. To be more specific does not aid in curing the delusion, mind you. What does species diversity and habitat mean to a mere mortal?

You do sound interchangeable with all of the other cogs, The Niche. Your sheer numbers make you a potent force, though, however passive you may feel.

I am not wholly interchangeable, only replaceable to within a measure of tolerance and a thousand times redundant.

Nor am I passively indifferent. That I respond to you should be indication enough that I go out of my way to inform you that I am indifferent. Without purpose but by my nature, I am actively engaged in the persuasion of others to become indifferent like me.

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The Niche, my reasons for conservation has nothing to do with saving the planet, or guilt, it's all pure greed.

It's way way way cheaper to carry my own refillable water bottle and fill it with tap water at the house (or even cheaper at the park water fountain) than pay Dasani hundreds of percent more for the convenience that it I don't have to fill it at the tap myself.

That this is a good practice for the environment is only a double bonus.

In fact, the first two Rs I spoke of both have economic benefits for me, if I reduce what I use, I spend less, if I reuse what I've already bought, I spend less. Recycling, well, I pay taxes, the city provides a service, I am paying for it, I am going to use it.

Now, if I were going to commit myself to saving the planet, I'd probably go even more radical than shedding my dockers for a nutrea loincloth, I'd probably spend more time on 4chan than on haif and try to martial the script kiddies to shut down coal power plants, or refineries, instead of taking over taylor swift's webpage.

To the question of what does 'save the planet' mean. this is what I like to confront the people who believe in AGW, sure I believe that humans are having an effect on global warming, but when you really stop and think about it, the global problem and what would have to be a global solution, the nations that participate in negotiations can't even agree, let alone the other countries that aren't involved. It's a hopeless situation that won't be solved by me trading in my Subaru STI for a Nissan Leaf.

Edited by samagon

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In fact, the first two Rs I spoke of both have economic benefits for me, if I reduce what I use, I spend less, if I reuse what I've already bought, I spend less.

So all this money you save...I'm sure that you let it accumulate in cash and stuff it under the mattress. Right? Say you spend it on a trip to Thailand. You're a planet murderer. Say that you keep it in a checking account so that banks can lend it out to others...like me...so that they (or I) can go and indulge my yellow fever. Then you are only complicit to planetary murder (and possibly some other things).

Recycling, well, I pay taxes, the city provides a service, I am paying for it, I am going to use it.

I dare you to use Fox Park, if you can find it. You're paying for it after all, and it is located in the East End. Let me know whether you enjoyed it and felt like your tax dollars were well spent.

Edited by TheNiche

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I am not wholly interchangeable, only replaceable to within a measure of tolerance and a thousand times redundant.

Nor am I passively indifferent. That I respond to you should be indication enough that I go out of my way to inform you that I am indifferent. Without purpose but by my nature, I am actively engaged in the persuasion of others to become indifferent like me.

Sigh. You've totally derailed us now. Replying in the Way Off Topic forum where we belonged all along.

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I don't think he has really derailed the thread. He is merely daring you to think, and to investigate. Rather than take at face value what the "greens" tell you, Niche dares you to research it for yourself. Truth be known, Niche Reduces and Reuses himself. He simply does not recycle much. But, he is just as cheap...possibly moreso...than you, and apparently for the same reasons. He, as you, sees little value in paying outrageous prices for ambiance (especially faux ambiance), or for products that you wish your friends to see you with. In fact, Niche sees right through the whole green movement. He knows that green hipsters are largely hypocrites, purchasing huge amounts of 'green' products, when simply using less of a product is actually better for the environment. He knows that Whole Foods brings in products from all over the world, at great cost of fuel, while Walmart is buying locally grown, but unhip, vegetables.

The hip are not content that you conserve. You must conserve for the right reasons. It matters not to them that Walmart is the country's largest user od solar energy, because Walmart does so to say money. It doesn't matter that buying all of your staples in one trip to Walmart saves gas. They drive their Prius to WF, Central Market and soon, Trader Joes, and buy some crap they claim saves the planet, oblivious what they did to the planet to get it.

The reason plastic is cheap is because it cost little to make it. The reason it cost so little to make is because it uses less energy. Less energy is good for the planet. That the plastic will not decompose is a dubious claim, since it will be buried in a landfill that no one will ever dig up. What does it matter? This gets us back on topic. Houston is looking to ban plastic to burnish its 'green' bonafides. We could stand to look better to the world, given our Energy Capital status. But, don't think we are saving the world by banning plastic bags. We will simply consume something else that takes more energy to produce.

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So you're The Niche's bagman? He most certainly did derail our topic, quite deliberately. I could do the same in his favored METRO forum by pointing out that - roads, rail, what does it matter, who cares what time he gets to work - 'cuz the sun is going to die; or, more immediately, huge sums of public money will be spent either way, at least up until the point that every last dollar of the GNP (or GDP - The Niche will enjoy giving me an Econ 101 smacking on the difference) goes to "health care."

Beyond that - I'm sorry - I can't exactly make out what you're saying. The tangent about Walmart doesn't help. I don't need to tell you where I shop, but Walmart's produce is terrible. I don't know if it's their distribution model that hamstrings them, or if it's just that HEB has a lock on the best suppliers.

Re plastic being cheap: gasoline is cheap, too, for now - but that doesn't mean there's no environmental cost to the extraction of fossil fuels and the burning of them. So, your point is...?

This was a thread about the banning of plastic bags (a ban enacted where I live principally because of their outsized representation in litter). That plastic is lightweight weighs in its favor in terms of transport, but that is but one consideration. It is indisputable that the best thing to do is to drink water out of the tap from a glass and tote your groceries home in your own bag, because making nothing at all is far more efficient than making something disposable out of plastic.

Actually the only argument for making lots of plastic stuff that makes sense to me is: well, it's preferable to burning it. I'm pretty sure that's frivolous thinking, though. In any case, the oil is all coming out, at least until getting it is more expensive than liquefying gas; greens don't have much to do with it that I can see. That doesn't obviate the problem of what to do with our trash, and how much of it we generate.

I don't precisely believe in recycling, except for aluminum, the value of recycling which is well-established; and building materials, very well-recycled here where I live, thankfully. When I say I don't believe, I mean, I can scarcely believe it's really all being processed - I think they must be keeping it all somewhere, like in old movies when they open the closet door and a mountain of stuff falls out. Unless it's all going into roadbeds. Being a radical eco-con I would consider that a Pyrrhic victory.

I don't know anything about The Niche and his daring "outside the box thinking," but if he's feigning views that are not his own merely in order to indulge his passion for ridiculing bourgeois values, well, there's even less novelty left in that than there is in deriding the environmental movement and bizarrely blaming all manner of ills on it.

"We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic."

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I don't think he has really derailed the thread. He is merely daring you to think, and to investigate. Rather than take at face value what the "greens" tell you, Niche dares you to research it for yourself. Truth be known, Niche Reduces and Reuses himself. He simply does not recycle much. But, he is just as cheap...possibly moreso...than you, and apparently for the same reasons. He, as you, sees little value in paying outrageous prices for ambiance (especially faux ambiance), or for products that you wish your friends to see you with. In fact, Niche sees right through the whole green movement. He knows that green hipsters are largely hypocrites, purchasing huge amounts of 'green' products, when simply using less of a product is actually better for the environment. He knows that Whole Foods brings in products from all over the world, at great cost of fuel, while Walmart is buying locally grown, but unhip, vegetables.

The hip are not content that you conserve. You must conserve for the right reasons. It matters not to them that Walmart is the country's largest user od solar energy, because Walmart does so to say money. It doesn't matter that buying all of your staples in one trip to Walmart saves gas. They drive their Prius to WF, Central Market and soon, Trader Joes, and buy some crap they claim saves the planet, oblivious what they did to the planet to get it.

The reason plastic is cheap is because it cost little to make it. The reason it cost so little to make is because it uses less energy. Less energy is good for the planet. That the plastic will not decompose is a dubious claim, since it will be buried in a landfill that no one will ever dig up. What does it matter? This gets us back on topic. Houston is looking to ban plastic to burnish its 'green' bonafides. We could stand to look better to the world, given our Energy Capital status. But, don't think we are saving the world by banning plastic bags. We will simply consume something else that takes more energy to produce.

At the potential cost of putting us completely back on topic, I am not hip with the city banning plastic bags, I am very much in favor of companies giving me an incentive to use my own bag. 5 cents savings isn't big, but it pays for the dollar I spent on the bag in 20 trips, and from then on out it's nickels under my mattress.

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Saving the world? I can't begin to think what that would mean, but sometimes I lack imagination. The world seems fine, much the same as ever.

Saving the planet? Also nebulous.

Saving species diversity and habitat? Contra The Niche, you should most certainly not waste time running over and roasting a squirrel, or if you must, make it a nutria; and the garden is your own affair. You should go to work doing whatever you do, then donate $$ or time to groups involved with purchasing, whether through fee simple or conservation easement, large amounts of habitat, or restoring that habitat where it has been lost (e.g.Texas).

You do sound interchangeable with all of the other cogs, The Niche. Your sheer numbers make you a potent force, though, however passive you may feel.

Oh, and .. plastic bags ... blah, blah, blah.

It does bother me when someone believes that buying something new is helping to "save the world". My favorite example is when someone claims a hybrid vehicle purchase means they are saving the environment, while ignoring the resources and pollution involved in the vehicle's production and shipment. It will take many years to offset that initial toll in terms of reduced petroleum usage, and even then they are polluting the air with the same fuel as a conventional car, albeit at a slightly reduced rate.

As for plastic bags, as I mentioned earlier, I think they are lousy for carrying most items, and they often seem to be treated as merely a proof-of-purchase when a shopper walks from the cash register to the exit door. I frequently witness a single item, itself with a handle, being placed in a plastic bag for no apparent reason. I'm not opposed to folks who want to use plastic bags, but I also wouldn't mind if there was some incentive for cashiers/baggers to be mindful and less wasteful with them.

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At the potential cost of putting us completely back on topic, I am not hip with the city banning plastic bags, I am very much in favor of companies giving me an incentive to use my own bag. 5 cents savings isn't big, but it pays for the dollar I spent on the bag in 20 trips, and from then on out it's nickels under my mattress.

I agree, and this would likely help with the purported problem of litter, too. If the bags cost a nickel far fewer will be left to float around. Look what it did for soda bottles back in the day, and what the higher price for recycled aluminum does for soda cans. And, if I need the bag for dog poop, I may just keep it for 5 cents.

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The fact is, all of the nation's landfills would only take up the area of about one midwestern county. Moreover, the total amounts of refuse being sent to landfills per person has been on a long-term decline. Environmentalists would like to attribute that to recycling, but I attribute it to companies reducing the amount of weight and volume of their products and packaging as a cost-saving mechanism.

Googling this vague (on its three counts) claim was difficult. The "long-term decline" of household waste that began after 2000 seems to have returned us to 1992 levels of trash, but also to have plateaued. It's impossible to look at further-back historical trends because you quickly find yourself mired in horseshit, literally. Another issue is that construction and demolition debris is sometimes included but usually not and that's rarely made clear. Automobile bodies never seem to be included.

Someone who wrote a recent book called "Garbology" said this on the amount of trash generated per person:

Well, it turns out that this is not an easy number to come by. In fact, the “
” – the publication that the EPA puts out to examine our municipal waste – is really badly outdated. Research done by Columbia University and a trade journal called BioCycle shows that we produce, per day,
... it doesn’t even compare favorably to where we were a few decades ago. It’s about twice as much per capita trash as we produced in 1960.

Landfills: I found a plastics trade group website that referenced an observation by a single Resources for the Future economist that the nation's trash would fit into a space three times the size of Oklahoma City, 120 feet deep, a thousand years into the future (assuming our population doesn't treble or whatever). Maybe that was your "midwestern county"?

The tell, as you like to put it, The Niche (or RedScare, I think I'm getting you mixed up - one of you really digs Walmart) there is the choice of Oklahoma City as the metric. Oklahoma City is the country's eighth-largest in land area. But they're counting on people not to know that and be suitably underwhelmed. However, I have no interest in the social "sciences," so I'm less than useless on this subject. I asked someone much smarter than me:

Me: "Would you trust the word of an economist on natural resource issues?"

Him: "Is the economist Ray Perryman?" (that's his particular bogeyman for some reason)

Me: "No."

Him: " 'Cuz I would trust him to lie every time."

Helpful.

Yes, plastics are getting lighter - very noticeable in the last 3 or four years (and there's a guy at UT who has made "paper" that floats in the air, incidentally) - but even the plastics industry website made no effort to claim this accounts for any large percentage of the reduction in waste going to landfills.

Please don't take this as an occasion to wonder to yourself, amid existential musings, what the Grand Canyon is for, if not to fill with trash. That would only make me sad, as in wish-I-was-never-born-sad. If you don't approve of my recyclabes going on a road trip to San Antonio every week, then you need hardly pretend that the existence of raw land Somewhere Else has much to do with solid waste utilities tasked with finding nearby landfill space, especially in agricultural areas. If it were all so simple for the nation to rid itself of 250 million tons of trash a year, I don't think my town would be entertaining the idea of investing in a trash-burning biomass facility halfway across the state.

Anyway, of course there are fewer landfills now - many of them filled up. The average size of a new landfill has also greatly increased, and capacity has been helped along by solid waste being more densely crushed than in the past. (Anaerobic landfills are also apparently creating a problematic buildup of methane from organic waste: Good News for People Who Love Bad News about greenhouse gases.) And - apart from the packaging reduction - we divert so much into recycling, even over and above how much trash we've created by diligently Not Reducing. Here, our blue bins are much larger than our grey bins. (And boy do my neighbors stuff them full: it's like Christmas all the time. Did you know cat litter comes in huge plastic jugs?)

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I agree, and this would likely help with the purported problem of litter, too. If the bags cost a nickel far fewer will be left to float around.

Purported problem of litter? Do you like the bags floating around or not? Not every question is political.

http://marinedebris....nfo/faqs.html#1

http://books.nap.edu...id=12486&page=1

The U.S. ended the dumping of trash in the ocean twenty years ago; ships of course routinely dump their own garbage (plastic waste is prohibited from American ships) in deep water, however only 20% of marine debris is thought to come from vessels. The science of counting things is not equipped with an algorithm to deal with trash-in-the-ocean, but so much rolls down the storm drain and into the sea that the ocean still clearly serves as a not insignificant sink for our trash.

I am prepared to purport that this is a problem, if you are not.

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I am able to foresee no horrible unintended consequences from passing it, though!

I can think of two horrid consequences.

1. Mountains of dog poop all over the city because people don't get free plastic bags to put it in (except for the dog parks, those will be clean since they distribute dog sanitary bags).

2. Cat boxes in peoples houses would never be cleaned.

seriously though, this might have been addressed somewhere, but...

What about restaurants that provide plastic bags for take out and doggy bag service? What about regular retail stores like macys, or whatever that give you plastic bags for your items?

Will the ban only affect grocery stores, or anyone who sells you something and puts it in a plastic bag in Houston city limits? I don't suppose it would be as strict as firework bans where you can't even bring them into the city.

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I just don't see this happening here. But, would this include produce bags?

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