Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bagging it

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yesterday the City Council passed an ordinance that will impose a 20-cent charge for plastic or paper bags in grocery stores and drug stores beginning January 1st. There has been considerable chatter about it lately. One City Council member reports that his office has received about 4000 letters, cards, and E-mails in support of the measure and about 400 against it. This is reportedly a record amount of correspondence on an issue for his office.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in our bookstore as this topic has been on the minds of the local residents. I’ve changed from automatically placing customers’ purchases in a bag to asking them if they want it in a bag as I am reaching for one. Surprisingly about half of the customers refuse a bag saying something along the lines of “I don’t need one for this purchase.”

The local customers seem to be ready, eager, to give up the extra merchandise bag. I did not expect such a change in thinking by so many so quickly.

In the years to come, with the major changes that will be needed by the industrial countries, perhaps everyone, in order to overcome the damage that we have been causing and are continuing to cause to the environment, more lifestyle changes will be needed. Certainly much bigger lifestyle changes are needed than simply remembering to carry your own shopping bag into a store. It seems to me that this change in bags is just one of the beginning baby steps of drastic changes that we will need to make in order to prevent the environmental changes that will diminish the carrying capacity of humans of the world. I eagerly await the day (not in my lifetime I’m sorry to say) when half of the buildings and homes will have solar cells on their roofs for capturing sunlight energy and wind farms will be common place while we zip around in electric vehicles, reducing our population with fewer births, eating locally grown sustainable foods and feeling empowered by shopping less for personal merchandise while sharing our wealth to eradicate hunger and disease throughout the world. I think that our local populace is more ready to begin (not to make all of those changes this year, but to begin exploring the options) to make the changes than the powers-that-be are aware.

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