Riffing off on the recent reports of merchants starting charging for plastic bags in China and gas price increase all over the world: These days, 9 out of 10 times, I tell the cashier that I don’t need a bag while shopping here in the US. Plastic and paper bags are free here (the common question of “Paper or Plastic” when you check out). I do ask for one when I need it, nothing wrong with that. A close and reliable source has informed me that the Swedes have been charging for plastic bags for a while. Good for them, I say.
IMHO, the general population in the US are living an EXTREMELY wasteful lifestyle: the gas-guzzling SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicle, Hummer, anyone?); the aluminum and plastic cans and bottles; papers and junk mail; stupid and over-the-top product packaging; fast food packaging, disposable plates, chopsticks, forks, and knives; gadgets, laptops, and phones that use different power adapters; batteries; computer waste, the list goes on and on. It baffles me to no end why we behave in such a bone-headed way. In the last year or so, I’ve worked at a client in a western Chicago suburb, a training center in New York City, a financial firm in downtown Chicago. Of all the places, and I’ve looked for them, not a single one has paper/plastic/aluminum recycling receptacles.
There are efforts to curb that waste, but we need to do much more, such as: encouraging the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles via tax credit or other incentives, remove the subsidy to oil companies and tax their record-breaking revenue for energy research and development, define sensible regulations for less wasteful yet still tasteful packaging, encourage and make it easy to recycle, etc..
So there you have it, my solution to solve environmental issues in the US. When I have time, I will propose solutions to totally resolve China’s pollution problem! In the meantime, go listen to what Chris Waugh has to say on this important subject.