Friday, 3 April 2015

Are Plastic Bag Bans Worth It?

Recently my family and I were on holiday in Maui, Hawaii, and as soon as we went shopping I noticed that everyone was offering us paper bags for our items. Of course I just pulled out the small cloth shopping bags that I keep in every bag I own and used that. On the few occasions the items didn't fit in my smallish shopping bags, I returned the paper bags and just carried out my purchases in my hand rather than use a large paper bag.

After a few days of this I did a quick google search to discover that there is a ban on plastic shopping bags on the island. My initial reaction was yes! But then I remembered that I saw everyone walking out of stores with paper bags, not reusable bags. When I remarked on this, my oldest daughter commented that paper bags are probably better than plastic.

It may have been due to being spring break and the area was full of tourists who (unlike me) do not travel with their reusable shopping bags, so their only choice was to use paper bags. However, this is not the fully story because we also went shopping in less touristy areas and there was still a predominance of paper bags.

This did not sit right with me. After all, as a reasonably environmentally aware person, I knew that the best choice should always be to use reusable shopping bags, rather than having to chose between paper or plastic bags.
I love the reuseable bags I purchased years ago, and they
fold up small enough to fit in any bag or purse so I always
have one or two on hand, even on vacation.

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  1. As you have stated, there is a ban on plastic bans on Maui in Hawaii, and merchants put items in paper carriers. The Trade Winds deli, which was down the street from where we were staying while there on a holiday re-used paper carriers as much as possible. I noticed that most of his bags were not new, and offered to return his bag the next time we were in his store, and also took him 10 or so more as well. He was very pleased. That may not be the complete answer, but it is better for the environment than just using a bag once.

  2. Do you think your re-useable bags offset the environmental impact of flying your family to Maui and staying in a hotel?