America and New Hampshire are confronting the pandemic. Citizens, businesses, and governments are doing all they can to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some useless measures instituted in less turbulent times need to be recognized for what they are.
One of these useless measures is plastic bag bans. They have been proliferating in recent years. The virtue signal crowd, with the aid of environmentalist activists, is principally responsible. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an order Saturday. In it, he is telling all grocery and retail stores to move away from reusable bags. The request is to transition to disposable plastic and paper bags.
“Our grocery store workers are on the front lines of #COVID19… working around the clock to keep NH families fed,” Sununu, a Republican, said on Twitter. “With identified community transmission… it is important that shoppers keep their reusable bags at home… given the potential risk to baggers, grocers, and customers.”
The road to hell is paved with good intentions
This comes just over two months after passage of the plastic bag ban legislation in the state. The New Hampshire House of Representatives is the proud author of this virtue signal. The legislation remains in committee in the state Senate. May it rest in peace.
To be fair New Hampshire is not alone. But that changes nothing with respect to how bad a decision this is. This changes nothing with respect to the fact that the NH House wants to place your life at risk.
New York State has put its recently passed ban on plastic bags on hold. States and cities around the country have been suspending their plastic bag bans too. There is a growing call for places that still have the bans to bring them to an end during the outbreak.
The science on reusable totes and virus transmission
These pieces of legislation are marginal or more probably detrimental in their environmental impact. They are also a public health hazard. Reusable plastic tote bags are a good carrier for bacteria. They are good carriers for viruses, the coronavirus included. John Tierney wrote for City Journal, numerous studies provide evidence reusable bags are unsanitary.
Tierney cites a 2018 Journal of Environmental Health study. In it researchers plant a surrogate virus on the bags of three shoppers. The shoppers went into grocery stores. The shoppers bought their groceries and go through check out. The researchers found the virus on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks. They also found the virus on many surfaces touched by the shoppers. They found the virus on packaged food, unpackaged produce and shopping carts. The researchers also found the virus on checkout counters, and the checkout touch screens at the pay point.
This is a scary prospect. Countless Americans have their only contact with the general public at grocery stores. Making efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 doing the exercise with the live virus on the bags. Real people will really get sick and some will die. This will happen because the leftists in the legislature have to do virtue signaling?
Climate science and plastic buildup
There are climate activists who just don’t care. They aren’t dissuaded, even at this time. According to The Wall Street Journal Larissa Copello de Souza said: “We cannot forget and disregard the other big current challenges we are also currently facing… Promoting the use of reusables is certainly one of the greatest practices we can have to address those issues…” By this, she means climate change and plastic buildup.
The problems with this mentality: 1.) misplaced priorities, 2.) plastic bag bans are ineffectual. That is true even if the primary concern is the environment. A study in Australia by University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor demonstrates the point. Bans on plastic shopping bags do not significantly cut down on waste. More people buy thick garbage bags to line their trash cans after the bans are put in place.
Bottom line: The current crisis has revealed the misguided nature of plastic bag bans. Cities and states must move to prevent these bans from exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic. Americans will have to take many actions and adjust their lives to stop the coronavirus. Plastic bag ban virtue signaling is less important than health. Climate claims and plastic load do not rival coronavirus deaths as action motivators.