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Woodside: Bag ban goes back to drawing board

Original post made on Feb 28, 2013

The Town Council in Woodside is doing some trailblazing as it moves the town toward a presumably greener future. The council intends to ban single-use plastic bags at checkout counters, but it's a much simpler proposal than those adopted by other communities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 28, 2013, 11:19 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by Scott McMahon, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Charging for paper bags is "an income transfer," Mr. Shanahan said. "It's 10 cents out of my neighbor's pocket. It's not very much but why am I making that decision?"

I would ask Mr. Shanahan if he thinks all such "income transfers" are beyond the purview of government? For instance, charging residents for a sewer system is an income transfer too. You think your neighbor should be able to discharge his waste into the street if he wants?


Posted by A recycler, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I am a resident who routinely uses the paper bags from grocery stores to recycle bottles, cans and newspapers. If I have enough of them, I use a reusable bag, as I do at the farmer's market each week. But I like the convenience of a biodegadeable paper bag to carry out my recycling. These bags are made from wood chips left over when square lumber is cut from round trees and from recycled paper and corrugated boxxes.

I am likely to be shopping at Robert's more, just for the convenience of getting paper bags. The compostable plastic bags I use for food waste are substantially more expensive. I favor banning the single-use plastic bags which are a blight on the landscape.But charging for the paper bags is silly.

Bravo Woodside!


Posted by Peter Berger, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

"Encourage behavior", "educating the citizens", contributing to acid rain, and so forth... To pass a ordinance to ban bags, paper or plastic, says to the citizens of Woodside: "You're basically not smart enough or care enough about the environment to make such critical decisions without our (the council) infinite wisdom and supervision."

I, for one and perhaps many, find such an attitude by the elected officials of Woodside to be insulting. I highly doubt one will find Robert's bags floating in the Pacific or littering Asian. Strongly suggest allowing the citizens of Woodside to use their own judgment and intelligence to utilize and dispose of bags without "encouragement" or fines.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Peter Berger said, "...Strongly suggest allowing the citizens of Woodside to use their own judgment and intelligence..."

Oh, heaven forbid, Peter! Don't you know that elected officials always know best?


Posted by Joe, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 7:43 am

Banning plastic bags without a charge on paper bags is a naive decision. First, it will result in a lawsuit from the plastic bag industry, which can claim (even without merit) that an Environmental Impact Report is necessary if bag usage switches from plastic to paper (instead of reusable). Without a fee, most people will continue to use paper.

Second, it fails to note the environmental impacts of paper bags. Forests are cut. Transportation needs increase. Disposal costs increase.

Third, this will increase the cost burden on retailers, who will see their costs increase as usage shifts to more expensive paper bags. This cost will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Not smart.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 1, 2013 at 8:55 am

I heard a news story today that there have been two unintended consequences of these reuseable bag laws.

First, you probably heard that the number of food-borne illnesses has increased due to people not washing their reuseable bags. Imagine a little raw chicken juice from your last shopping venture sitting at the bottom of your cloth bag as you toss in a few apples.

Second, some stores are reporting shop lifting increases of over 20%. Thieves now go into stores with their own bags and it's impossible for store owners to determine which items the shopper may have come in with (which is the perpetrator's claim) and which they took from the shelves.

Beware of unintended consequences.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

Remedies can be found for unintended consequences. This is the essence of intelligent decision making and follow through on efforts to create a more livable world -- as opposed to throwing the one we have away, which we are rapidly doing.

Where I shop, it is assumed that you don't want to put a cooked chicken in your cloth bag. That can become a rule if need be.

As for shoplifting, that's a new problem? The sky is not falling here.


Posted by Donald, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Unintended consequence or market opportunity? Clearly the makers of reusable bags have found their sales booming in recent years. How about a bag-washing service like those for diapers, towels, rags and uniforms? You turn in dirty bags at the store and get clean ones in exchange, for a small fee.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I don't support this part.

"retailers must keep records of the sale of paper bags."


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