Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Take this small step, and move on

PlasticBagW

An errant plastic bag lies near the California Northern railroad tracks under the Covell Boulevard overpass. Courtesy photo

By Leslie Crenna

Plastic shopping bags — the 2.2 mil variety, the kind that make perfect parachutes for Littlest Pet Shops and free doggie poop bags — are not the most plentiful trash found in Davis.

Just take a walk along the fenced northern border of Community Park and Davis High School, anywhere along the California Northern tracks, waterways like the Covell channel just east of Sycamore Lane below University Farms, the channel along F Street north of Covell, the west drainage pond, or around the Julie Partansky Pond in Northstar.

Just wander in those beautiful wild places and you’ll also find dog poop, glass bottles, cigarette butts, Marlboro boxes, toothbrushes and plastic spoons. What you’ll find most frequently are snack and convenience food and beverage containers of all kinds.

So if these 2.2. mil plastic shopping bags are not the most plentiful trash brushed or blown off our curbs and streets and wedged mostly among park shrubs and waterways, why get rid of them? One, because they are still prevalent, and two, because they do pose a particular threat other trash does not.

Shredded, wrinkled, soaked and wrapped around riparian willows, imprinted with CVS, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Panda Express, Taco Bell or no logo at all, these plastic bags are thin enough to become edible and attractive to wildlife. I admit I have not yet witnessed this in Davis, but pictures of living aquatic animals entangled in plastic or their decomposing stomachs full of various plastic trash including the 2.2. mil bags are easy to find on the Internet.

If they are present in our waterways, our birds have access to them.

My reason for supporting the plastic bag ban is not just because I love birds and want to reduce litter. It’s also because I know we can do better. Lots of forward-thinking retailers in Davis have already eliminated plastic bags, charge for paper bags and actually pay shoppers to bring their own. They also sell reusable shopping bags, thereby making a profit rather than giving bags away for free.

Getting Davisites to carry reusable shopping bags will be a challenge. Old habits are hard to break. But so many of us are already doing it, it must not be that hard.

Nonetheless, making consumers pay for what they previously received for free is always painful. There will need to be an adjustment period. Having fewer choices is not ideal, but if all your choices are poor, the best course is to refuse them all then work to create and promote better choices.

If we can take this one small step — and it is small compared to the other problems we face as a community — why not do it and get it over with? Why wait to make things better? Let’s make it better now.

Then we can take the next small step, and the next, all leading toward a better future for local wildlife as well as the human variety of Davisites.

— Leslie Crenna calls herself “a proud Davis resident.”

Special to The Enterprise

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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • Ray CrennaNovember 12, 2013 - 9:21 am

    I am a resident of Marin County. Here we have successfully instituted the use of reusable shopping bags. It did take a year or two but has now become fashionable and prevalent. It may appear to be a difficult task to make reusable bags the norm but like a lot of things, it only takes concentrated effort and partnership with the retailers to awaken the public to the benefits, especially in an already socially aware community. Lloyd C.

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  • fernandoFebruary 19, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    we have a ban on plastic bags in oakland but really the biggest offenders are lunch venues. panda express for example bags every order doesn't matter if it is "for here" or "to go". makes absolutely no sense and it is so wasteful. everyone eating there eats right out of the bag. is it really that hard to walk 6 feet from the counter to a table without the need for a bag? its hard to tell them not to bag it too since they do it so fast. i always have to repeat myself "no bag, please"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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