In recent years, the San Jose City Hall has led the way in stupid environmental policies. Several years ago, they were among one of the first cities (along with San Francisco and Salt Lake City) to ban bottled water in government agencies based on questionable environmental claims. Now they are banning stores from giving away shopping bags of any kind. Plastic bags will be banned altogether and stores providing paper bags must charge a fee only provide bags made with 40 percent recycled material.
As detailed before, banning plastic bags won’t help the environment because they are more energy efficient than paper and do not pose any significant problems when properly disposed. However, this law also targets paper bags based on the assumption that people either don’t need bags or can bring canvas or other reusable bags. But there are problems with that approach as well: reusable bags can become riddled with dangerous bacteria.
Surely, every choice in life carries risks and benefits. The idea that government regulators–starting in crazy places like San Jose–should be granted the right to trump our freedoms and decide what risks are worth taking is frightening, particularly since they so often mess up. Unfortunately, lawmakers love copying bad ideas. After San Jose and San Francisco banned plastic bottles, many other places followed suit. This time, consumers in other cities would be wise to say “no way” to this silly San Jose nanny-state regulation.
Image attribution: San Jose City Hall taken from ktadeo’s photostream on Flickr.