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Thread: Is there a moral obligation to ban plastic grocery bags? (Prop. 67 in California)

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Is there a moral obligation to ban plastic grocery bags? (Prop. 67 in California)

    Proposition 67 in California would ban plastic bags at grocery outlets.

    The main reason is to protect wildlife which are being killed by the bags which end up on beaches and in the oceans. Birds get tangled in them, and turtles and fish eat the plastic, thinking it's food, which kills many of them.

    The opponents to the measure say nothing about the threat to wildlife.

    There doesn't seem to be much value to humans per se in banning the bags. Rather, the point is to protect the wildlife, and this protection will require a sacrifice by humans, because the bags are convenient.

    My personal individual interest would be to oppose the ban, since these bags are convenient, and there will almost certainly be some cost paid by banning the bags, and some new inconvenience.

    Nevertheless, the logic seems on the side of banning the bags, assuming the total harm done by them is greater than the convenience to humans.

    Here's a source http://www.animalsaustralia.org/feat...astic_bags.php which says the total number of animals killed annually is "more than 100,000" due to plastic bags. Is that a large number? For the whole planet one might argue that it's not so much.

    Assuming there's virtually no human benefit in banning the bags, but only to the wildlife which would be protected, is it a moral obligation to ban these bags to protect some animals from being victimized? The amount of plastic in the ocean would increase anyway, but at a slower rate than the present increase in plastic. (Maybe the slower rate would be significant if many countries did the same.)

    The logic to banning them is: The total harm they're causing is greater than the human benefit, and harm/benefit to animals has to be factored into some kind of calculation which includes the TOTAL harm/benefit, not just for humans, but to ALL SENTIENT BEINGS. So in some cases, the human benefit has to be sacrificed in favor of other non-human beings, depending on the calculations/estimates of the benefits/harms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Proposition 67 in California would ban plastic bags at grocery outlets.

    The main reason is to protect wildlife which are being killed by the bags which end up on beaches and in the oceans. Birds get tangled in them, and turtles and fish eat the plastic, thinking it's food, which kills many of them.

    The opponents to the measure say nothing about the threat to wildlife.

    There doesn't seem to be much value to humans per se in banning the bags. Rather, the point is to protect the wildlife, and this protection will require a sacrifice by humans, because the bags are convenient.

    My personal individual interest would be to oppose the ban, since these bags are convenient, and there will almost certainly be some cost paid by banning the bags, and some new inconvenience.

    Nevertheless, the logic seems on the side of banning the bags, assuming the total harm done by them is greater than the convenience to humans.

    Here's a source http://www.animalsaustralia.org/feat...astic_bags.php which says the total number of animals killed annually is "more than 100,000" due to plastic bags. Is that a large number? For the whole planet one might argue that it's not so much.

    Assuming there's virtually no human benefit in banning the bags, but only to the wildlife which would be protected, is it a moral obligation to ban these bags to protect some animals from being victimized? The amount of plastic in the ocean would increase anyway, but at a slower rate than the present increase in plastic. (Maybe the slower rate would be significant if many countries did the same.)

    The logic to banning them is: The total harm they're causing is greater than the human benefit, and harm/benefit to animals has to be factored into some kind of calculation which includes the TOTAL harm/benefit, not just for humans, but to ALL SENTIENT BEINGS. So in some cases, the human benefit has to be sacrificed in favor of other non-human beings, depending on the calculations/estimates of the benefits/harms.
    A better solution started by countries like China was to make all shops charge for plastic bags or they face a fine.
    If we destroy our ecosystem there is a chain reaction that could affect us.

    Using less plastic bags is also practical to save resources where many now purchase biodegradable cloth bags (or in some cased get these free).
    Enough bags will affect the fish we catch. Alternative biological material is sometimes used but is still more expensive

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    You're weighing human inconvenience against animal victimization. Is that fair? Further, you still have available single use plastic bags for your gently misted produce.

    It's been my reading that single use plastic bags are overall the best way to go from a 'total use of energy' standpoint, more so than canvas bags due to canvas bags being such a popular company promotional product. But this is true if, and only if the plastic bags are made double use by the consumer as trash bags. Still, I would think there would be an excess of these single use plastic bags in the typical US home. Far more are accumulated than can be reused. It would help if store baggers were required to fill these single use plastic bags and be forbidden from double-bagging. Typically, baggers will fill these bags to less than half their capacity and are too quick with the double-bagging IMHO.

    Personally, I've been using the same two canvas bags for years now. For the sake of full disclosure, I do have a third canvas bag that I break out during the holidays. This still leaves me with many single use produce bags for the recycle.
    Dwight

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    We've made people pay for 'em here, and it has cut their use by about 90%, I believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    The logic to banning them is: The total harm they're causing is greater than the human benefit, and harm/benefit to animals has to be factored into some kind of calculation which includes the TOTAL harm/benefit, not just for humans, but to ALL SENTIENT BEINGS. So in some cases, the human benefit has to be sacrificed in favor of other non-human beings, depending on the calculations/estimates of the benefits/harms.
    The benefit of convenience for humans comes in at 11 while the harm to wildlife comes in at 2, so the cost benefit analysis reveals through the calculation that the harm is less than the benefit.

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    There is always base self interest.

    Any ignorant beast can have it.

    But there is a higher plane of existence.

    Where one cares about actions that lead to unnecessary suffering.

    Maybe something only reserved for higher forms of human life.

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    An interesting and relevant article from the Atlantic:

    Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment?

    In 2008, the UK Environment Agency (UKEA) published a study of resource expenditures for various bags: paper, plastic, canvas, and recycled-polypropylene tote bags. Surprisingly, the authors found that in typical patterns of use and disposal, consumers seeking to minimize pollution and carbon emissions should use plastic grocery bags and then reuse those bags at least once—as trash-can liners or for other secondary tasks. Conventional plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE, the plastic sacks found at grocery stores) had the smallest per-use environmental impact of all those tested. Cotton tote bags, by contrast, exhibited the highest and most severe global-warming potential by far since they require more resources to produce and distribute.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonA View Post
    An interesting and relevant article from the Atlantic:

    Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment?

    In 2008, the UK Environment Agency (UKEA) published a study of resource expenditures for various bags: paper, plastic, canvas, and recycled-polypropylene tote bags. Surprisingly, the authors found that in typical patterns of use and disposal, consumers seeking to minimize pollution and carbon emissions should use plastic grocery bags and then reuse those bags at least once—as trash-can liners or for other secondary tasks. Conventional plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE, the plastic sacks found at grocery stores) had the smallest per-use environmental impact of all those tested. Cotton tote bags, by contrast, exhibited the highest and most severe global-warming potential by far since they require more resources to produce and distribute.
    This is an issue of the bags harming other forms of life.

    The issue of human made climate change is a separate issue and will not be solved, or substantially worsened, by any efforts here.

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    Maybe it is time to ban plastic bags. The half wits that pack your groceries tend to use more bags than necessary. Ban the plastic bottle of water while we are at it. Get a drink from the tap.

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    I'd say the most significant reason to ban plastic that ends up being simply left in the environment is to reduce the attack surface by which it is exposed to things that could mutate a way to eat it. Depending on what form such adaptations life makes to learn to eat plastic, a lot of things that humans depend on to never rot will start rotting. Plastic being spewed everywhere, a veritable smorgasbord for whatever strain of DNA as learns to eat it, is a recipe for disaster.

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