One of the consequences of the transformation of our nation from a democracy to an oligarchy is that common sense solutions to our biggest problems are no longer possible if they stand to reduce the wealth of the oligarchs by even just parts-of-a-penny on the dollar.
Enter the single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bag. These bags are a disaster for the environment: making them is a disgusting petrochemical science experiment that contributes to global warming, using them leads to overflowing landfills and ocean floors covered in plastic garbage, fish and marine life suffer, our planet warms, eventually people suffer, too.
Given the aforementioned, the reasonable trend is to reduce -- or eliminate -- their use whenever possible. The District of Columbia has introduced a bag tax. Seattle and Los Angeles have banned their use -- with minor exceptions -- entirely. There is now a de facto ban in Hawaii.
But, has any state entirely banned the bags? No. Is the United States collectively anywhere near close to banning their use? Hell no.
Enter a different society: the European Union is now demanding an 80 percent reduction in the use of plastic bags by 2019.
And now the rest of the European Union, including recalcitrant Britain, will have to fall into line.
Every nation in Europe will have to bring in tough new measures to slash the use of plastic bags, after a key EU vote yesterday.I would note that even the less-than-reputable tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail has supported this legislation:
Euro MPs voted in favour of strict new targets forcing each country to reduce plastic bag use by 80 per cent before 2019.
The decision is a huge boost for conservationists, who have been fighting for years to reduce the huge volumes of devastating plastic litter harming the environment.
A 2004 study of wildlife in the North Sea found 96 per cent of dead sea birds had fragments of plastic in their stomachs.
Backed by the Daily Mail, campaigners have successfully fought for a supermarket plastic bag charge in Britain, which will be introduced in 2015.And, in America, well, the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity says these bags are just dandy...and FREEDOM. (Or, well, freedom for the Koch Brothers who make billions from petrochemical toxic crap.)
We are screwed, and we are screwing the entire planet as a result.