This kind of attitude is, frankly, incompatible with Telluride’s declaration as a “civil liberties safe zone.” It is the right of merchants to decide what types of bags they supply to their customers, just as it is the right of the customer to say “no thanks, I brought my own bag,” but it is not the place of the government to legislate it.
The Sheep Mountain Alliance likes to portray environmental issues as black and white, but in reality, things aren’t that simple. If I don’t happen to be carrying my government-mandated-reusable-bags with me, does the Alliance want me to go home to get them, and then get in my car and make another trip to the grocery, instead of just shopping on my way off the slopes or on the way somewhere else? How much extra gas did I burn, compared to the energy content of a polyethylene grocery bag which weighs six grams?
Furthermore, at my house, a great many plastic grocery bags get reused for other purposes. If I don’t have any more plastic grocery bags, I’ll be buying more other kinds of plastic bags.
As for “the negative impact of plastic bags,” the correct question is, “Compared to what?” There is a reason that plastic grocery bags are much cheaper than, and have largely replaced, paper grocery bags – plastic bags consume 40 percent less energy, produce 70 percent fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94 percent fewer waterborne wastes through their production cycle when compared to paper bags.
So which bag has the bigger environmental impact? And as for the argument that plastic bags don’t degrade in the environment, place the blame where the blame really lies: with people who litter, not with the products they carelessly drop on the ground. So: Enforce littering laws? YES. Encourage people to reuse, recycle and bring their own bags? YES. Mandate it by law? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
– Kris Bartosiak (B.S. Chemical Engineering)