Roper: Brattleboro’s plastic bags ban is useless

By Rob Roper

As of July 1, it is illegal in the town of Brattleboro to give out “single use” plastic bags — the flimsy, shapeless things you get at the grocery store. This is a perfect example of government overreach with unintended consequences, and a failure to learn from others’ mistakes.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

First, it’s not fair to label those flimsy bags as “single use.” We use them for lots of things after we’re done using them to carry groceries. Most ubiquitously, they line garbage cans throughout the house. Personally, I use them on dog walks for picking up waste. When I travel, I’ll use one to wrap spare shoes and stuff a couple extra in my suitcase for dirty clothes as they accumulate. They are handy and light, and they tie up and fold compactly.

But here’s what happens when you ban them, and I know of what I speak.

My family chooses Chatham, Massachusetts, as a regular vacation destination. About a year and a half ago, Chatham banned these awesome plastic bags as well. The local grocery store started giving out heavy-duty plastic bags that qualified as “multi use.” They were thicker and had a most definite rectangular shape. Surely these things were more expensive, required more material, and took more energy to produce. Moreover, they were totally useless for anything else. They did not fit in household garbage cans, they were too bulky to stick in a pocket for a dog walk, and you couldn’t tie the tops, so they didn’t work for dirty laundry. End result: these “multi-use” bags got used once. And, adding insult to injury, I then had to go out and buy more plastic bags to go into garbage cans, etc., that also got used once.

So, to the politicians and bureaucrats in Brattleboro and elsewhere, I know you think you’re helping, but you are not.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Joe Mabel

5 thoughts on “Roper: Brattleboro’s plastic bags ban is useless

  1. How did the reporter and responders ever creatively manage before there were disposable e plastic grocery bags?

    • There used to be very durable large paper grocery bags before the plastic – that people reused for garbage, packing shoes, etc. – they had the added uses that you could write on them and you could use them for getting the kindling in the fireplace started. I liked them better than the plastic – some stores still have them, but you have to ask for them.

    • I suppose you could ask, “how people managed” before cell phones, cars, computers or any other innovations also.

  2. Fill a paper bag with doggy doo, put it on the front porch of anyone who voted for this. Light the bag and ring the door bell. Watch what happens if they try to stomp it out.

  3. Rob, LMAO with you on this stupid law. Same happened in Newport RI, with the dame results. Now at the local doggy park (yeah, really……….. ), you have to buy a one use doggy bag to pick up fido’s necessary droppings. The bags from local wallyworld are not acceptable. But the snowflakes are happy, no more re-using wallyworld bags. That should end the world plastic bag crisis.
    OK, next crisis…..

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