06192019Wed
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2019 12pm

Columns

Beating our plastic addiction

From a letter to the editor published in last week’s edition of this newspaper and postings on local social networks, we’re learning that there are immigrant residents in our midst who express concerns and even opposition regarding the impending ban on plastic bags written into state law.

pg13aI’m flabbergasted that people of the baby boomer generation that originated the green movement have a problem with any initiative to reduce the plastic scourge that threatens a healthy future for our community and the entire planet.

It seems that the main objection to eliminating plastic bags at marts of trade stems from worries about collecting and disposing of sanitary wastes. Some wonder, “What will I use to pick up my doggy’s poop?” or “How will I toss out the kitty litter?”   Others agitate about getting rid of bathroom refuse that can’t be flushed down easily-clogged johns, or dirty disposable diapers or similar yucky stuff.

Puzzling over solutions to these seemingly legitimate dilemmas, I brought up the subject in a recent chat with Chapala Ecology Director José Jaime. A committed environmentalist, he raised an eyebrow in astonishment before giving, to him, the obvious answer: get bags made out of biodegradable materials.

Well sure enough, just last week I did some shopping at Chapala’s Soriana supermarket.  Bagging folks at the check-out register had a full supply of large and small bags labeled with a message explaining that they were manufactured from something that degrades in 12 to 24 months when exposed to oxygen, sunlight or adequate temperatures. They are suitable for composting without negative effects on natural fertilizer or the cultivation of produce.

So kudos for Soriana, a 100-percent Mexican chain committed to looking out for the good of the environment.

Before anyone snarls about how the plastic ban will hurt small businesses, I have to point to Cenizas del Sol, a charcoal-grilled chicken joint set almost directly across the road from Soriana. Aside from a pocketbook-friendly menu of flavorful pollo asado and the tastiest crispy chicken tacos in town, this modest family enterprise dispatches carry-out food in biodegradable containers that are packed into the same type of bags.  If Cenizas can do it, so can other food and grocery outlets.

Señor Jaime recognizes that supplies of such “green” products are not easy to find locally, but they are increasingly available from retail and wholesale merchants at Guadalajara’s huge Abastos market. Before long he expects that big box stores throughout the state will stock their shelves with biodegradable garbage bags in assorted dimensions.

Reflecting further on how to deal with the approaching demise of the plastic bag, maybe we should be asking, “What did grandma do?”  If childhood memory serves, I recall sturdy brown paper bags used to cart home groceries and discarded newspapers recycled to line garbage pails and wrap up nasty wastes.

The tide is turning against corporate monsters that have conned consumers into the convenience mystic that got us addicted to plastic, with no mercy for the well-being of Mother Earth.