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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 10, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Seattle’s proposed grocery-bag fee

Phony environmentalism

The proposed grocery-bag fee is another example of the feel-good, phony environmentalism for which our beloved Seattle is, alas, famous. The refrigerators we use to keep our food fresh use more energy in a couple of hours than is used to make all the grocery bags we use in a year.

“Just keep a bag in the car” means, for those of us with that quaint thing known as a family, “just keep eight or 10 bags in the car.” We can’t stuff all our weekly shopping in a couple of canvas bags like all the condo-dwelling singles who live around the block from Whole Foods.

Not to mention the irony of advising people to keep their canvas bags in a petroleum-fueled vehicle.

It’s one thing to try to get rid of non-biodegradable plastic bags — fine by me — but paper bags?

Since we have that family thing going on at our house, we have a lot to recycle. We fill a (recyclable) paper grocery bag up each day.

I’m not disposed to carry a nondisposable recycling tub up and down a couple of flights of stairs each day, nor am I disposed to pay for recyclable bags when I get them for free now.

More stuff will probably go in the trash. Who knows, I may burn more energy and go grocery shopping in Shoreline.

It’s called a “perverse effect” and it’s a common result of poorly thought-out legislation.

— Steven Wangsness, Seattle

Punishment for folks without cars

Bag tax, bag fee, bag heist: Whatever they call it, my take on it is it’s one more way of punishing me — and others like me — for not owning an automobile.

I’m sure it’s an unintentional punishment so perhaps some explanation is in order.

If you have to take your groceries home long distances either on foot or by bus — in my case it is usually a combination — those plastic bags are a godsend. I usually get a double bag so it doesn’t bust and spill munchies all over the sidewalk, so if the silly law passes I’ll probably have to pay twice.

I can hear the chorus from here: “Get a reusable, eco-friendly bag!” Sorry friends, that’s just not an option. I’d have to carry the ecobag around all day in my backpack and there’s usually way too much stuff in there already.

Am I selfishly putting my own interests before those of Nature? Well maybe, but I figure I’m doing more for the environment by almost never driving than the folks who drive their groceries home every night in their road-clogging, oil-burning, greenhouse-gas emitting cars. And yeah, I find it just a little bit galling that when some of them vote for the bag tax, they’ll congratulate themselves on having done their little bit to save Mother Earth.

— Andre Duval, Seattle

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