My country tis of thee

We are a non-partisan organization. We don’t believe in ideology or parties, but we believe in America, and America believes in plastic bags. But the Democratic Convention this week has us thinking: in all the talk about polls and votes and turnout and election results, it’s worth nothing that if using a plastic bag were the same as casting a vote, well there’s a certain Fred Meyer branded piece of plastic film that would have been elected President by now. 

In short: we are pro-bag because America is pro-bag.

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Understanding Metropolitan Market’s Position

We got our hot little hands on a copy of a statement from the Metropolitan Market high-end grocery chain on the bag tax. Like any customer-oriented business, it’s critical that they obfuscate their position in wishywashy language designed to appeal to both sides, but which in fact appeal to nobody. But by reading between the lines, we can dispose of the mumbo-jumbo and get right to the heart of what they’re actually saying.

If you love plastic bags as much as we do, I think you’ll be pleased. Read on for the text of their response, and an analysis.

Metropolitan Market Supports a better path to Green

Metropolitan Market and the City of Seattle share mutual goals: To decrease disposable bag use and to be good stewards of the earth. However, a disposable bag tax may not be the answer. Rather than mandate a disposable bag tax, we believe what will greatly reduce disposable bag use is community education about the environmental value of reusable bags, and customer rewards for reusing bags.

[theplasticman notes: Like any good corporate citizen, Metro Markets believes in the iron law of supply & demand — except when it comes to market-based regulation of customer behavior. At that point it’s clear: public service announcements and perhaps raffles are the way to make a difference. That’s why they never reduce prices when they want to increase sales — because cost is not a satisfactory means of affecting consumer behavior. It’s economics 101.]

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Why the silence?

It’s obvious to any working person that 20 cents per grocery bag is an ungodly price to pay for a clean, sanitary plastic bag, at least if that price is paid by the consumer at the point of purchase, rather than through other costs like the cleanup of the Puget Sound or other externalized costs of plastic bag production.

It’s just as obvious that the middle middle class is disappearing from our city — taxed out of existence like some kind of right-wing fantasy of how taxes destroy things — and that adding yet another tax simply won’t help the matter.

So why, then, are the area’s leading groups representing the interests of the poor & elderly not speaking up against the tax? The Statewide Poverty Action Network is silent on devastating impact the bag tax would have on their constituents. The Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans says nothing about how a bag tax would befuddle our elderly to an early grave, and bilk them of their life savings like a corrupt reverse mortgage scheme. And the Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition seems to think there are more important issues than the welfare of their members about to be hit with a 20 cent per bag tax.

What’s happening here? Why are we in the plastic bag industry the only ones speaking up for the poor & the elderly? Why aren’t these groups which exist to represent the interests of the disenfranchised not prioritizing this issue which so massively impacts their constituents?

Do they think that poor people will be able to re-use bags? Come on now, if these populations had that sort of thriftiness, they wouldn’t be poor in the first place, now would they?

We here at PBMforMPB (Plastic Bag Makers for More Plastic Bags) will continue to speak out for the poor and disenfranchised, as we always have, for the life of this issue at least. Because if you can’t trust advocacy organizations to advocate for what matters, you can certainly count on plastic bag manufacturers.

The future of plastic bags in the ocean

 

Where would that turtle find 20 cents to pay for that bag?

Where would this turtle find 20 cents to pay for that bag?

There’s been some publicity lately about so-called “dead zones” in the ocean and “pools of ‘garbage’ ” filled with plastic bags and other detritus of consumer capitalism. Some people even say that the thousands and thousands of plastic bags in these oceanic garbage pits are somehow the fault of us in the plastic bag industry.

Heaven forbid! Our responsibility ends with the purchase of our bags — that’s how a market system works, silly.

But even if we did have anything to do with where our clean, sanitary, and convenient disposable bags end up post-disposal, bags in the ocean are simply nothing to worry about.

Yes, these bags may be a threat to endangered sea life. However, since these creatures are already endangered, there are relatively few of them left. That means it’s highly improbable for one of the few left of an endangered species to come into contact with one of our bags. Jut do the math — it’s like a winning lottery ticket getting struck by lightning!

Also, if the boo-hooers about global warming — many of whom are also behind the bag tax — are correct, then that’s another reason not to worry. Because global warming means melting ice caps, which means higher sea levels — and that means more water to dilute pollution like old plastic bags.

Clearly, the problem is solving itself, with good old American working-class ingenuity. The same kind of ingenuity that brought you the clean, sanitary, disposable plastic  bag.

If we outlaw ingenuity, then only outlaws will be ingenious. Is that what we want in our city?

A Hefty Issue

 

A wimpy, wimpy, wimpy City Council

A wimpy, wimpy, wimpy City Council

Many Seattle-ites are asking: who profits from the bag tax? Working families will suffer — that’s clear — so asking who profits is a good question. As conspiracy nuts know, “following the money” in the most tendentious manner possible is a critical step on the path to delusional self-importance.

 

So let’s follow the money on the Seattle bag tax.

1) The new bag tax will mean fewer plastic bags. It’s supply & demand. The city even claims that this is the reason for the tax in the first place.

2) Fewer plastic bags means no cheap sanitary free-at-point-of-purchase way to line your garbage cans.

3) And that means you’ll have to buy more garbage bags. 

4) And who benefits from that? Why it’s big companies like Hefty and Glad, of course.

Sure sounds like the plastic garbage bag industry is behind this tax, doesn’t it? I bet they’re pulling the strings and backing it with millions in contributions.

You may wonder why disposable plastic bag manufacturers would have different interests than the makers of plastic bags used for disposal. If so, well, you have a lot to learn about our industry. The thickness of the plastic film makes all the difference in the world.

Can our cats afford the Seattle bag tax?

 

Does the Seattle bag tax mean that toilet training your cat is the only affordable option?

Does the Seattle bag tax mean that toilet training your cat is the only affordable option?

It’s a well-known fact that cats live longer lives when kept indoors — even if those lives are less interesting and in fact depressing enough that feline support for I-1000 is off the charts.

 

And cats living indoors means litter boxes.

And litter boxes means dirty litter.

And that means plastic bags.

Plastic bags — by the tens of thousands — have been the kitty litter carrier of choice since plastic bags were widely introduced. It’s no wonder — they’re cheap, clean, and oh-so-disposable. In fact, carrying kitty litter is a great way to “re-use” a plastic bag in a way that makes you feel great about re-using it at the same time you’re throwing it away. We here at Plastic Bag Makers for More Plastic Bags just love that kind of feel-good do-little stuff! 

Picture it: you’re filling a good old American-marketed plastic bag (made in China of Russian petroleum) with this morning’s business from your beloved Fluffy. It’s a typical Seattle scene, made possible by the plastic bag industry.

But now picture this: the city is stealing the bag out of your hand just as you’re filling it at the litter box. The tax took away your bag, and now you don’t have the bag you need anymore! Clumps of litter are suddenly littering the floor — now you have a mess, and all because the Seattle bag tax ripped the plastic bag right out of your hands, just when you needed it. 

And that’s exactly what the plastic bag tax will be: a big mess.

But what options do you have? Should you let Fluffy outside, now that you can’t afford the convenience of a sanitary disposable plastic bag? That will surely shorten his lifespan — but do you have a choice? If you’re a working family, you most certainly do not. And there’s nobody the plastic bag industry cares about more than poor people. (That’s why we love siting our factories in poor neighborhoods!)

The Seattle bag tax: consider the consequences.

Can the manufacturers of plastic-bag dispensers afford the Seattle bag tax?

What will the bag tax do to the makers of somewhat-more-stylish bag of bags replacements? 

 

What will the bag tax do to the makers of somewhat-more-stylish 'bag of bags' replacements?

 

It’s easy to dismiss the Seattle bag tax as the product of the Green Nazis in city government. After all, if you’re like us in the plastic bag industry and you don’t want to pay $450,000 for a 250-square-foot Belltown studio, there’s no room for you in the city anyway.

But its effects would reach much father than the borders of Shoreline and White Center. It would tear at the very heart of America — that is, the retailers and marketers of simple manufactured goods designed to ease the organizing crunch that affects so many of us who have so much stuff (and take it home from the store in clean, sanitary, and economic disposable plastic bags!)

Take, for example, all those companies that manufacture some variety of the plastic bag dispenser you see at the top right of this post. Just think: what will happen to their Seattle market share if the Seattle bag tax stays in effect?

At first, nothing will happen. After all, most of us have dozens if not hundreds of plastic bags desperately awaiting re-use, squirreled away in our kitchen cabinets.

But slowly, over the decades, those supplies will decrease. One by one, your stowed-away bags — once free at point of purchase!, in the good old days — will make their way to the landfill (or the Puget Sound). They’ll leave your cabinet filled up with cat litter, or cradling some rotten lettuce you don’t want to let touch your garbage can because it’s slimy and icky, or used to empty the small and rarely-filled garbage can in your so-called “den” that’s really more of a storage room.

Eventually, at some point, your bag of bags will be empty, each bag disposed of as nature intended the disposable bag to be.

What then, I ask? 

What then?

What then, indeed.

When the time comes, one by one, the plastic  bag dispensers of Seattle will be dismounted from cabinet doors. Their screw-holes will be spackled over.

They will be forgotten. Another part of our city’s working class heritage, erased.

And jobs will be lost — the jobs of those who work hard, day and night, to manufacture organizational knickknacks like the plastic bag dispenser.

Is that a vision of the future Seattle wants? Because that’s the future we’re going to get ourselves, 20 cents at a time.

With gas at $4 a gallon, can we really afford to be destroying jobs so haphazardly? Can we really afford the bag tax?