Letter: The Problem With Plastic Bags

To the Editor:

It’s really sad, Ramesh Ponnuru arguing that the biggest problem with plastic bags is government (“Plastic-Bag Bans Have Disgusting Results,” Feb. 11). And how the ultimate solution to plastic-bag problems is to “just let people make their own decisions.” (And hey, corporations are people, too.)

In reality, the biggest problem with plastic bags is that they are feeding plastic oceans. The litany of documented plastic pollution is literally hard to stomach: an average of 77 grams of plastic found in the stomachs of dead Laysan albatross chicks (40,000 dying per year on Midway Island from plastics ingestion — chicks, unlike adults, are not able to regurgitate indigestible debris); 8 million plastic fragments per square kilometer of coastal Pacific waters; plastic particulates outweighing plankton per unit of ocean water by orders of 20:1 and 30:1; whales dying from plastic-bag occlusions of their stomachs. (Source: Charles Moore, Plastic Ocean.)

The problems of ocean pollution approach in magnitude and kind those of climate pollution. Since Ramesh Ponnuru’s boss at Bloomberg has become an activist on the climate end, maybe he’ll also speak for the oceans. Maybe, one day, oceans will become people, too.

Peter Malsin



Column: Plastic-Bag Bans Have Disgusting Results

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Conservatives often point out that laws, no matter how benign they may appear, have unintended consequences. They can reverberate in ways that not many people foresaw and nobody wanted: Raising the minimum wage can increase unemployment; prohibition can create black markets. The efforts in many cities to discourage the use of plastic bags demonstrate that such unintended consequences can be, …