To Bag Or Not To Bag

Having only ever traveled to other states in the U.S., I can’t comment with any absolute authority on what the laws might be, good or bad, for trying to live a sane, free, and healthy existence in any place other than New Jersey. But I know, of late, there have come some interesting laws said to make our lives better here.

Or have they?

A strict (some would say, others not) ban on plastic bags was implemented last May in my Garden State. But a recent poll (and we all know how we need to be ever suspect of polls and stats…I had a statistics teacher in college who was fond of saying, “When they start counting, you start doubting”) released by Fairleigh Dickinson University on Wednesday stated that of 808 adult respondents via web and phone, 40% want to keep the ban, 33% want to overturn the law and 26% support changing the ban.

Also, New Jersey has a unique feature, passed in 2020, where “paper bags cannot be handed out or sold at big box stores and grocery stores at or larger than 2,500 square feet.”

Of course, as most things do these days, the ban has been viewed as positive or negative according to one’s political affiliation; the poll showed 50% of Democrats likely to support the ban as it currently stands, 55% of Republicans would like it to be completely removed.

The accumulation of reusable bags has been a big issue since the ban; as of December last year, Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, said legislators were considering tweaking the ban. This amendment would give customers the option of having their purchases delivered in cardboard boxes, dropped off in a container left out front by the customer, or in paper bags made of 40% post-consumer recycled content.

Indeed, from a purely selfish, non-politically p.o.v., I know that I often forget to grab a bag or two when shopping. And it does seem I have more plastic bags piling up around the house than ever before. Beyond that, I don’t think anybody has any real clear idea of what’s best here. As there have been suspicions about relcying for years, are we really effecting the environment in any positive way with this ban?

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