This whole war on plastic shopping bags has been raging for several years. The logic is sound and the intent noble and no doubt quite sincere: Plastic bags do not decompose, they are a pollutant filling the landfills, ergo the responsible, GREEN thing to do is no longer produce them and use a renewable alternative. Awesome, seems to make sense.
"Siiiiigh..omg you guys...." -Mayor Rob Ford
In the city of Toronto the logic breaks down when a non-issue somehow boils into a political and worse, emotional issue. It's an attempt by some of the folks in city hall to bring the Climate Change Movement to influence municipal policies. So the first step was introducing a mandatory 5 cent per bag tax on consumers of any retail store in the city of Toronto. And? Well nothing, that's it.
"Today we save Toronto - tomorrow, the GALAXY" -D.Shiner
The city didn't collect that money, which amounted to 5 million bucks a year for the retailers to keep. It wasn't put towards any kind of recycling program or other environmental initiative, just a 5 cent little nanny-state nudge to change your behavior. "That'll teach those dumbass sheep to start caring about the environment!" When voluntary recycling doesn't work, use force I guess.
"Look what you did you fucking plastic bag using asshole." -David Shiner
The retailers were totally fine with that, "we can sell the bags now too? Sure, whatever you say, awesome!" And they provided re-usable canvas bags (for $1 each). Saving the environment is fun! People bitched and moaned a little but mostly went along with it. Toronto's mayor never liked it even back before he was elected and this week reopened the issue to scrap the pointless tax. Then it blew up in his face when, immediately after the council (a heavily divided group to begin with of "Pinkos" versus the "Fascists" ) decided to rescind the tax, they turned around and in an act of revenge voted to BAN THE BAGS ENTIRELY!
The Earth is saved. Oh and the indiscriminate ban also applies to more recently introduced biodegradable bags too.
So after three years of a plastic bag tax to curtail the use of one of the least harmful, most often-recycled-anyway products in the city, there is nothing to show for it except $15 Million in extra income the city gave its retailers with no strings attached. Oh wait, according to David Shiner the councillor behind the all-out ban, there's have a million less bags in the landfill now (they made up less than 1% off the total trash in the landfill to begin with).
You don't legislate people's behavior by punishing the consumer with a tax. If you really wanted to get rid of the fucking bags for the sake of the environment then people like David Shiner should have created an incentive, not a punishment to make the change.
What's the point if now we'll just buy bags in bulk? Would it not have made more sense to have a fucking plan, like say:
Introduce a ban on non-biodegradable shopping bags to take effect one year from now.
Starting today you introduce a 5 cent tax on existing non-biodegradable bags.
The money is used to pay for retailers switching to old fashion paper bags and those reusable canvas bags.
Since people use plastic bags in their homes for garbage collection, dog poop pick up, packing their kid's lunch (different bags in each case I hope) you keep biodegradable plastic bags available as a commodity for 5 cents each but paper and canvas bags available for no additional charge.
BOOM! Fuckin genius. But no, we'll just ban all of them. "Taschen sind verboten!!"
You never know who might be sorting your trash.
So stock up for now, because it probably won't be long until there's another inane vote at city hall and bags are suddenly okay again because they've gone back to worrying about people smoking on outdoor patios or other heinous crimes. In the meantime I have to find something else in which to stuff my coffee grounds, cigar ends and jizz rags down the garbage chute.