Town Square

Modest Proposal: Why only ban plastic bags?

Original post made by Modest Proposals, Meadow Park, on Apr 6, 2008

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!


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Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2008 at 8:19 pm

How about banning postings by idiots?

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Posted by Logical
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Thank you "Modest Proposals" for illuminating one aspect of what most consider City Council negligence.

Road repair.

Your logic is impeccable, within the twisted mindset of "Greens", and our Council is oh so Green now....

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Yes, I'm all for a petition - but I think the correct term is 'recall' - of this useless city council.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2008 at 5:42 am

Think of the water we would save if we had to carry it in buckets from a corner hydrant.

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Posted by New Grandma
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2008 at 8:04 am

"ban sale of disposable diapers", and use millions of gallons of water we don't have to wash cloth diapers - think again.

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Posted by Anna
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm

"Banning plastic store bags is merely symbolic - we should really make a difference and show our environmental leadership in everything we do..."

But symbolism and cheap moralizing is all the Council really is interested in here. (Just like the rest of the Environmental scolds in government at all levels.)

The politicians aren't going to do anything that greatly inconveniances the public, let alone pass anything that will cause any degree of economic hardship - as Modest Proposal's tongue in cheek gem of a post clearly shows. They want to preen at photo -ops and make grand pronouncements ...but really aren't interested in doing anything substantive.

There was an article in the Weekly about Al Gore's visit to Palo Alto after his Nobel Prize was announced. Turned out that his gas guzzling Mercedes idled to keep the A/C on while he made his end of the world speech. Then he took off on a CO2 spewing private jet from SFO on his way to pick up his prize.

I'll believe Climate Change is a real problem when the people (like our Council and Al Gore) who are telling us it's a crisis start acting like it is in their own lives. Right now all I see is a lot of hypocrisy.