Hal Wastes His Wages Bagging Plastic

Unless you’ve had, say, a plastic bag over your head, you’ve probably heard the buzz over designer Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m not a plastic bag” line of tote bags. The bag, now selling on e-Bay for as much as $839.99, is a sterling example of eco-snobbery gone awry.

Furthermore, the fact that it’s made in China, a nation arguably strip-mining its own human and natural resources in a reckless attempt to feed insatiable Western consumerism, leaves a bit of a skid mark in the product’s eco-footprint.

But the fact remains the bag is generating awareness, which I imagine was the point of the whole undertaking. Sitting around my apartment watching Planet Earth on Discovery (possibly the coolest $*@%!^& show EVER – check out the super slow-mo shot of the sharks off Southern Africa as they hit the seals), I took a look around the room as Sigourney Weaver wove her tales of environmental woe and wondered if perhaps it was me she was talking to.

Hell, I use plastic bags all the time. Delivery from Biggie’s comes in a plastic bag. Six-pack from Sparrow, they give you a plastic bag. Buying plastic garbage bags at the corner store, they put them in a plastic bag. At the end of the day you end up filling those plastic garbage bags with all the other plastic bags. Seems a bit redundant, doesn’t it?

A recent Salon.com article by Katharine Mieszkowski highlighted the staggering negative impact everyday plastic bags have on the environment, whether it’s the hundreds of thousands of marine animals that become entangled in them each year, or the tree outside your apartment that rustles in the breeze with the sound of non-biodegradable polythene.

And despite my normal indignation and overall callousness towards other human beings, I actually give a fraction of a crap about the environment. It stems from the fact that I primarily spend my TV time watching nature programs. If we keep screwing up the environment there won’t be anything good left on TV.

So I’m taking myself out of the cycle. Even before Anya Hindmarch’s “innovation,” I recall having seen and perhaps even used an alternative, so I’m making a heartfelt and concerted effort to avoid unnecessary plastic bags. It can’t be too hard – nations such as Ireland, South Africa, Taiwan and Bangladesh have already taken legislative steps to curb the use of these things.

With U.S. cities from California to Connecticut following suit, it would be interesting to see what sort of impact a citywide ban in our little burgh could have, considering that Hoboken is located where the Hudson meets the sea.

Small business owners, consider the potential benefits of proactively seeking alternatives. Large corporate chains feeding off the area’s commerce, it would be a decent gesture to show you actually care about the local environment. Opportunistic politicians, consider the legacy. And trendy yuppie scum, this should be right in your wheelhouse.

“But Hal, without plastic bags blowing around our city streets like tumbleweeds, whatever shall we use to pick up our dog poop?”

An excellent question, as the issue of urban dog-doo far supersedes the global implications of non-recyclable plastic.

How ’bout this: when Fido drops his daily deuce, find your nearest copy of the Hudson Current and tear out Page 3 – at least then my preachy, tree-hugging column will be good for something…

Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender, writes a biweekly humor column for The Hudson Current and websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at c_halleron@yahoo.com.


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