Give plastic an inch and it seems to take a mile. Look how it’s insinuated itself into the school year shopping. It coats binders and notebook covers, encases pens, glue and tape and bags our sandwiches. The only trouble is much of this plastic is headed for the landfill right away. Still, we found this one cool plastic item to be irresistible.
On a visit to the orthodontist a few months ago with my daughter, I was reminded of the thousands of tiny “disposable” toothbrushes that fly into the trash every day in dental offices across the globe.
OK, so this isn’t an oil spill. Stay with me for a minute. It’s a tip of the iceberg thing.
This whole debate about plastic bags once seemed a mite frivolous to me, next to some of the really mammoth issues confronting society — food scarcity, global warming, coal and oil pollution. I got that it mattered. But it seemed like a side trip on the road to sustainability, like a smaller matter that would eventually resolve on its own. I was more concerned about the carbon pollution from big industrial sources, and our cars and our homes, that comprise the Damocles sword threatening our children’s future.
We had big fish to fry.
California often pushes the envelop on environmental causes, and could become the first U.S. state to ban those pesky plastic bags that
fly out from grocery stores by bajillions every minute of every day, only to end up in trees, waterways and clinging to other trash.
It might not seem like a big deal, but such a ban — the law under consideration would forbid the use of plastic bags and charge 5 cents for paper grocery bags, pushing consumers to employ reusable totes — would be a symbolic victory for people everywhere who are opposed to waste and needless disposable goods. It would relieve oceans, rivers, parks, streets and you name it of this persistent trash (and clear up a lot of cupboard space devoted to these ubiquitous little do-nothings). But most of all, it would send a signal. The hope on one side (and the fear on the other) is that other states will follow California, toppling the need for this petroleum-based product across America.
If you’ve ever taken a pre-schooler out to eat, you’ll know that toys are a powerful lure. We adults consider appetizers, drinks, entrees, pricing, calories and ambiance, evaluating a matrix that leads us to lunch.
But five-year-olds are at the mercy of their bellies, and the pull of shiny baubles. A five-year-old wants food and treats.