Debbie Hauser responded to a column in the Escondido, Calif. North County Times with a thorough letter to the editor that's worth sharing. The subject of the Hauser's wrath was this June 23 article by freelance columnist Gail Chatfield, headlined "Solutions to plastic pollution." Chatfield was praising Elizabeth Willes and the Surfrider Foundation for their efforts to get Encinitas, Calif., to adopt a ban on single-use plastic bags. Chatfield wrote:
According to the Surfrider Foundation, Californians use 600 plastic bags per second, 30 billion plastic bags per year! Even more horrifying, the foundation estimates that it takes 12 million barrels of oil annually to produce the 100 billion plastic bags used nationally. Yes, we do have recycling bins for plastic bags, but nationwide only about one percent of plastic grocery bags get recycled. Unlike cans and bottles that can repeatedly be made into new cans and bottles, plastic grocery bags cannot be made into new bags. They are "downcycled" into other plastic consumer products, like plastic lumber, but that's only if the bags are recycled. Paper bags are a good alternative since grocery stores distribute three plastic bags for each paper. However, paper bags are usually made from recycled content paper. California ships its post-consumer mixed paper to China where it is made into recycled content paper and shipped back to us.Hauser shot back:
Gail Chatfield's recent column in the North County Times was so biased under the guise of an informed and factual article, that I felt statements need to be addressed. She said that grocery bags cannot be made into new bags, as are cans and bottles. Grocery bags should be compared with paper bags, not cans and bottles. Plastic bags are made from "up to 25 percent recycled plastic bags." She stated that paper bags are a good alternative because they are usually (?) made from recycled content. Is she saying that it is a good use of transportation fuel so that bags are sent to China from California and back to the Golden State to become paper with recycled content? She said grocery stores distribute three plastic bags per paper bag to their customers. The stores prefer plastic because paper is so bulky and expensive to transport as compared with plastic. Many customers prefer plastics, because after the groceries are home, there are so many uses for the plastic bags versus paper: food wrapping, ice bagging, lining of garbage pails, picking up dog poop, etc. The many secondary uses of plastic bags are also one of the reasons that plastic bags do not end up in recycling bins.It's interesting (and rare) to see someone like Hauser respond to criticism of plastics in the media. Perhaps we'll see more of this when the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s promotion campaign takes off later this year. How many others are out there like Hauser, who are willing to spend the time and stick their neck out to stand up for plastics?