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.”