Banning the Smugness of Anti-Plastic Bag Bans

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Commentator Diane Roberts says where she lives in Britain, plastic shopping bags are banned. Now, if they would only ban the smug attitudes of anti-plastic pushers, she wishes.


You won't be asked whether you want paper or plastic bags for your groceries when you go shopping in San Francisco. The city has made the choice for you. In a few months, it will be paper bags only.

The changeover won't bother essayist Diane Roberts all that much. She's been getting used to going without plastic bags. She's had to. That's because Diane has been spending sometime in England, where plastic bags are already falling out of fashion.

DIANE ROBERTS: The other day, I went to my favorite London shop to buy an utterly useless frivolity, an Aqua deParma candle. It's scented with violets picked under the full moon in the woods somewhere in northern Italy. So it's idiotically expensive. But whatever, the lady handed me my change. Then, she shot a hard, hard look at my several branded shopping bags. Do you really need a bag, madam? No, I didn't need a bag. I shoved the candle in another bag and slunk out, chastened. No one in Britain, you see, needs a bag. Unless perhaps it's made of hemp, cotton or hand-knitted, recycled industrial waste.

Last month, ladies in Manolos in cashmere twin sets lined up in the pre-dawn darkness outside a supermarket. They were waiting for it to open at seven. Why? Because the supermarket was about to sell a limited edition clothe sack. It was designed by an up-and-coming fashionista and it was printed with the boast: I am not a plastic bag.

This scene of burgeoning green sheet(ph) was marred only by some of the ladies carrying their clothe sacks away in plastic bags. But the anti-bag movement will not be stopped. People who brazenly took petroleum product receptacles with nary a whiff of biodegradability will be shunned if they're lucky.

If they're not, they'll suffer the same fate as the woman who absentmindedly imported a pristine plastic bag into Mudbury a few weeks ago. Half the town set upon her, explaining that this was not done. You see Mudbury has banned plastic bags. It now provides its citizens with cornstarch sacks for their shopping, their garbage and even their dog poo.

As one storekeeper said, these things will probably biodegrade before we even have a chance to use them all. That's okay, as long as they don't go in biodegrade while I'm toting home a couple of Aqua deParma candles.

HANSEN: Diane Roberts spends her plastic-free summers in London.

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