It is good we are getting ahead of the curve in banning plastic bags, which obviously are bad for the earth since they are not often reused and are made from a non-renewable resource. But we are merely copying San Francisco. Can't we truly be leaders, and think more broadly about what behaviors should be banned?
I have some modest proposals that I urge the City Council and City officials to consider immediately. These will establish Palo Alto as the leader among US towns, and cement our reputation as a environmental pacesetter. Here they are:
- ban all short car trips - these waste gas, generate disproportionate greenhouse gases, and wear down roads. Instead, citizens should ride bikes or walk, which will be good for their health. We can start by enforcing a "no car drop-off" rule at all public schools, other than by permit (if the student lives >2 miles away). We could consider an exception for approved hybrids (not SUVs).
- ban sale of disposable diapers - these clog landfills and waste paper products. Again a ready, proven alternative is available - cloth diapers.
- ban sale of kleenex, paper napkins, paper towels, and disposable plates and utensils - This is a no-brainer. Handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, and dish towels are clearly available (and used by some); everyone has re-usable dishes and silver. There is no excuse for this waste of resources.
- ban sale of ziplock, glad, and other plastic bags - these are no different from the plastic bags used in store, and are merely an indulgent convenience that can easily be done without. Paper sacks are available that compost better, or for in-home use, re-usable metal or ceramic. These symbols of the "use-once" culture should be eliminated.
- limit all road repair - road repair uses oil-intensive asphalt and encourages more driving. Why should we invest to support this anti-environmental and anti-social behavior? Potholes and bumps also serve to calm traffic, which is important if we encourage more walking and biking. This will also help the city budget.
I'm sure others can contribute to this list and come up with many more. Banning plastic store bags is merely symbolic - we should really make a difference and show our environmental leadership in everything we do. With a few simple acts by the City Council, we can set the example for every progressive US city on what can and should be done.
Who's with me? Let's start a petition!