Mandatory Environmentalism

Having grown up in the Midwest, I wasn’t aware of the plight of the Earth.  Even when I lived in Florida, New York, Chicago and Prague, environmental issues were never brought to my attention.  No, I had to move to California to be made aware of the state of our world, and I have to say I think they’ve gone overboard with it out here.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are definitely issues with our world that are being reflected in the current climate.  However, I don’t know if Global Warming, or the Hole in the Ozone Layer are relatively new phenomenons or things that recur every few thousand years here on the planet.  Quite honestly nobody knows that, because none of us (including our current scientists) have lived long enough to have researched things that far back, so I’m not going to jump on the “We’re killing the Earth” bandwagon.

I think it’s great that people want to do their part to help save the planet, but sometimes I think they take it too far.

For instance, I have no problem turning off the water while I’m brushing my teeth.  It took me several months to get used to it, but it makes sense and is part of my brushing routine now.  However, I REFUSE to turn off the water while I’m in the shower.  Firstly, the air gets too cold too quickly if you do that, and secondly, it just seems weird to me to stand in my tub that way.

Likewise, I’m all for turning off lights when you leave a certain room, but I don’t jibe with going without electricity for a full day.  More power to those who want to and can, but again, I’m just not willing to let go of certain conveniences.  And I love the idea of solar or wind power, but I don’t currently have the wherewithal to afford those changes.

I also think the hybrid or electric cars are a wonderful innovation for our world.  We don’t own one yet, but I’d like to think we could afford one for our next vehicle purchase.  I did rent a Prius once and liked it.  It took me a while to figure out how to start the car, and it was several minutes before I was used to the sound of the engine shutting off at a stop light, but otherwise, I found it to be a great ride.  When my fill up cost less than $10, I was fairly sold.

However, the one change that I truly hate is being forced to bring my own bags to grocery stores.  As of January 1st, all stores in Alameda County will join many other counties in California in this law, and will charge people for not bringing their own bags.  I think it’s a great idea to reuse and recycle the bags that you currently have, but I don’t like being coerced into doing so.  I also don’t like being punished for forgetting to bring them, which is what I feel the mandatory ten cent bag charge is; a punishment.

We generally do reuse the paper ones we’ve gotten from Nob Hill for groceries (with the handles that make it easier to carry), and the plastic ones from other stores are recycled by being our trash bags (we have an under-the-sink do-hickey that those bags fit perfectly), so it’s not like we’re just tossing them into the bay.  And actually, we’re now reusing LESS than we did before we knew this new law was going into effect, because now we feel we have to stock up on plastic grocery bags for our trash receptacle.

And what are we supposed to do after the law takes effect and we run out of plastic grocery bags?  Are we supposed to buy more trash bags to replace the ones we got before?  Isn’t that still using plastic?  How does that benefit the environment?

I think it would be better to reward people for reusing bags–Lucky gives you five cents off your bill for each bag you use, and Trader Joe’s lets you enter a drawing for a gift card–so why not just increase the rewards for reusing bags?  What’s the “need” to punish/charge people?

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is just another way for the grocery stores to make more money off of people.  Why else would our lawmakers feel the need to impose such an exorbitant fee?  I mean, really . . . ten cents for something that costs less than a penny to make?  But maybe this is similar to the taxes imposed on people who smoke.  I don’t know.

I’m in support of doing what you can to help the environment, but I don’t like something being forced upon me like this.  It’s enough to make me want to boycott all the grocery stores in the county, except that the county’s pretty big and the surrounding ones have this same law in place.

I guess I’ll have to eventually accept it, but I’m gonna grumble and grouse for a while before I do.  😉


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Dec 28, 2012 @ 11:56:32

    I agree that a reward system would be better. I personally think that all this is the ‘fault’ of the California collective culture. Let’s say that there are the top 5 things that will do the most for helping the ecology. Of course, CA would do all 5 of them. Other places may do 2 out of those 5, if we’re lucky. But here in CA, we are expected to do 6-15 too. Because that’s who we are. So, there is a big guilt trip in this state if we’re not doing #12. So, instead of trying to help the other states in the union, or other countries in the world to do those top 5, or just continue ourselves to do them, we have to actively pass laws like the grocery bag law, to force people and punish people (who are already doing good) to adhere to the #34 earth-friendly tip.
    I agree that it seems a bit harsh, and punitive.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Dec 28, 2012 @ 12:41:40

      That’s an interesting thought, Craig. I’m not sure why CA has the “guilt,” if indeed they do, or why there’s the collective “Save the Earth!” mentality out here. It would be an interesting thing to learn.

      Thanks for stopping by today.


  2. KW
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 09:22:56

    Sometimes I feel environmentalism is taken to the level of a religion. You’re “good” if you recycle, go green, whatever. You can do penance for your original sins by buying certain green products or paying certain green taxes. And our beliefs in what is good for the environment are sometimes based more on faith than fact. These days, I prefer to call myself a conservationist. Conserving water, re-using plastic grocery bags as garbage bags, just makes good sense from an economic perspective. My parents were kids in the depression, so those are the values I was raised with.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Dec 31, 2012 @ 09:29:40

      That’s also an interesting take, KW, & I agree with you. I think it’s unfortunate that our value as humans is now being judged by how much (or if) we recycle, etc. And just like many religions, the followers have their areas where they bend their own rules for whatever purposes. I personally believe that if you do something–no matter how small–it helps, but again, those who follow that “religion” want to make you do more.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today. Happy New Year!


  3. Kathy Downs
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:02:13

    HI Alyx – I do agree with you. I used to bring my bags to the grocery store, but now I don’t – sort of a stubborn “you can’t make me” approach. Of course, now with the fines in place I suppose I’ll have to go back to carrying in my bags.

    I also think its interesing that the fine for not bringing your own bags has some side effects: first the bags you buy from the grocery store so you don’t have to pay a fine, have their name on it. Hello, now I have to pay to advertise for my grocery store? (since selling promotional products is part of my business I shouldn’t complain, but it still irks me) And reducing the number of bags sold to grocery stores, assuming it does, will have an affect on the bag manufacturers: reduced sales, fewer jobs. Now there’s a real benefit for California’s economy.

    I do wish California would consider consequences when it leaps on the bandwagon. Ok, now my rant is over.

    BTW – I always get the notice of your blogs through the digest version of SINCNorCal, so I’m always days late commenting!


    • Craig
      Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:19:33

      Kathy, You’re spot on with the advertising. Maybe you should take the store’s logo-stamped back and add text underneath it saying, “… COERCED me to buy this bag!” or “… supports legalized blackmail!”


    • Alyx Morgan
      Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:23:56

      Very good points, Kathy, & ones I didn’t even consider. Yes, it seems that California, as a whole, tends to make choices & decisions before considering ALL the factors. I wonder how many other jobs people have lost because CA decided to “go green.”

      Don’t worry about being “late” to post, I’m glad you stop by whenever you can. 🙂


  4. Kathy Downs
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:03:32

    Hmm – apparently I should have done a better job of editing my post!


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