November 09, 2010 — I love plastic bags. There, I have said it. Don’t everybody be writing me and accusing me of killing dolphins now. Plastic bags are great for lining the bins and I always use them to pack my shampoo and conditioner when I am travelling. Nobody wants to have shampoo and other liquid stuff leak all over their bag, right?
And wait, they are great for toting your wet towel from the gym or yoga class. And wet swimsuits. Please, don’t tell me you carry them around in your gym bag just like that? You put in a plastic bag right?
All this hoo-ha about no plastic bags annoys me. Now when I go to the supermarket, I feel like an environmental rapist when I answer yes to “Do you need a plastic bag?” Never mind that I have to pay for it AND recycle it.
Even worse, on those No Plastic Bag days, I am forced to buy one of those more politically-correct bags because I forgot to bring a bag of my own. (Yes, I am an impulse and random shopper.)
Mind you, I love dolphins and the Earth as much as the next guy. But I think this focus on plastic bags is really just tokenism. What about the hard things like not using so much energy? (Can you live without the aircon now? Or walk instead of driving?) Fixing the public transport so we can stop driving is way, way harder, I suppose.
Even more annoying is finding out that all this malarkey about plastic bags is based on bad science and exaggerated claims. It has come to light that the general belief that plastic bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year is false.
Other kinds of plastics, ropes, nets, and fishing gear kill more animals and seabirds than plastic bags.
Yet, we continue to attack plastic bags. I guess it gives the authorities a warm fuzzy feeling like they have done well when they are seen doing something “right.”
And if I don’t get the plastic bags from the supermarket, how am I supposed to throw out the rubbish? Buy environmentally-friendly plastic bags! Right.
* Joan Lau is Managing Editor, The Malaysian Insider