Banning bags: smart. Taxing them? That's an epic fail.

Connecticut's public enemy number one is the so-called "single-use" plastic bag. That term "single use" is often misleading since the bags have multiple functions. One quick example, currently I hold the low-paying, position of president and marketing coordinator for long- and short-term Canine Waste Removal. It's a backbreaking work, but one that must be done with pride and a certain sense of daily celebration.

With no other viable alternative, the collected waste is carted away using plastic bags. However, times-they-are-a-changing, and these bags, which first gained popularity in the 1980s, have been exposed as polyethylene harbingers of death, slowly and methodically mutilating our habitat.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year. While the average family will take home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags in any given 12-month period, only 1% are returned for recycling. This means 99% of the bags end up in landfills, burned in incinerators or are dumped as litter. An estimated 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually. The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes — yet its shelf life can last over five centuries. Unfortunately, the bags don't break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming micro-plastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.

Eliminating the bags is a small inconvenience, but ultimately will result in a marketable upswing for the eco-system. Using cloth/reusable bags is a simple, moral common-sense attempt at a solution. A fair trade-off for a planet we seem hell-bent on destroying. There’s no universal form of recycling across the country. Every city and state have their own rules governing packaging and regulating what gets recycled. Some are unrealistic while others, like banning plastic bags, are easily achievable.

Trolling the internet will guilt you into a thousand ways to save ourselves from ourselves, but there are a few environmentally friendly things you can try that won't throw you into the conservative stockade reserved for anti-growth extremists.

Stop using plastic water bottles. Ironically, many tree huggers are the worst culprits. Like a pacifier, some liberal elites seem genetically attached, sucking on overpriced $3 bottles of H2O while lecturing on planetary warming. Globally, humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute — and 91% of this plastic is not recycled. This must be stopped. Simply refilling your old bottles is a great start. Remember bottles are made from oil and delivered by big trucks that burn gasoline that pollutes the environment. No climate-warming-warning, save-our-oceans liberal should ever drink from a plastic bottle without being labeled a hypocrite.

Stop throwing garbage on the highways. There is nothing more irritating than seeing cigarette butts and fast-food wrappers flying out of the window of a vehicle. It's lazy and it's selfish.

I propose we empower every Connecticut citizen to be more ecologically sensitive, but at the same time be a warrior for capitalism. Use the power of technology. Incentivize citizens to videotape individuals littering and anonymously upload the footage to a police-monitored website. Have the state increase fine limits, actually enforce anti-littering laws, then split whatever is collected with this new wave of eco-capitalist warriors.

As for those plastic bags, don’t laud Gov. Lamont and the legislature for making the planet safer. The ruling party didn't push for the immediate eradication of the pliable carry-alls, they were simply after another revenue stream and planned to bank $55 million from a 10-cent plastic bag tax.

Per usual, all these Einsteins at the Capitol forgot that capitalism is always three steps ahead of any slow-moving conglomerate of governmental greed. The grocery chains that our governor counted on for much of this extra revenue decided to stop selling the plastic bags — and sell paper bags instead. Now, Connecticut gets zero additional revenue dollars and the stores don't have the headache of counting and taxing the plastics.

The retail and grocery outlets are free to charge 10 cents for the paper bags and the state winds up tens of millions of dollars in the hole. Why couldn’t our lawmakers foresee this outcome?

You can be sure that the missing revenue will be made up with some other inventive surcharge or state tax. As far as the 10-cent tax, that's an epic fail. It would have been easier and politically advantageous to simply ban the bags.

Bravo, Mr. Governor. Well done!

Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.

 

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