A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
'Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.' - Groucho Marx

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  1. #1

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    George Mason

    Default [WSJ] Bans on plastic bags harm the enviornment

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...FTSecondBucket

    The article is too long to post, just follow the link.

    The bottom line is that the required # of uses of the bags they want you to use is much higher than what they can withstand, and paper bags are worse than plastic bags. This creates a situation where the new process (reusable and paper bags) is more damaging than the old process (plastic bags).

    Also it discusses how land fills do not work the way most people think they do, therefore they are not as inefficient with plastic bags as most people assume they are.


    I found (some of, more on that later) the information interesting. I didn't realize the break even point was so high, and maybe that speaks to how terrible the alternatives are.

    I definitely think we should move away from plastic/paper bags and into something that works better for the environment and us as consumers. i wish i had the answer as to what to do, but i don't; i'm sure there is one out there that would better than what we're currently doing.

    Side note: I like how the foxnews journalistic qualities are leaking into the other newscorp organizations, in this case wall street journal. to further push the newscorp agenda they offer statistical analysis like this:
    "This wide-varying amount of reuse that is required until the breakeven point is reached depends upon the type of environmental impact, but the median is 314 times, and it is more 179 times for all but one of the 9 impact categories."
    when anyone with any education in the field of statistics (and mine is very minimal, mind you) understands that a median presented by it self like that is utterly useless. They didn't show us the standard deviations (which would be a minimum) or give us any other context to work with. Journalism is the new lost art
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  2. #2

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    James Madison

    Default

    My wife uses the reusable bags when she goes grocery shopping. They're like tote bags, so you can use them until they wear out.

    Still though, we have a huge amount of plastic bags under the sink in the kitchen. Ridiculous, really. It's like you just can't get away from the things.
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  3. #3

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    George Mason

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    Quote Originally Posted by Goaldeje View Post
    My wife uses the reusable bags when she goes grocery shopping. They're like tote bags, so you can use them until they wear out.

    Still though, we have a huge amount of plastic bags under the sink in the kitchen. Ridiculous, really. It's like you just can't get away from the things.
    Well the article talks about those reusable bags. Their reuse ammount is somewhere around 50-60 times. Yet the (loosely) estimated break even point is somewhere around 150.

    Now the WSJ didn't give us enough information to really break it down, but what they gave us basically means that if you don't get somewhere near 150, or at least over 100, uses out of your reusable bag then you're doing more harm than good.

    Out of curiosity, how many uses does your wife get before it needs to be replaced?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSr619 View Post
    Didnt they just discover an organism that eats plastic?
    Posted via BGO Mobile Device
    yeah, they've found all kinds of microbes and stuff that will.

    the sad part is, even if they built these landfill like places where you could dump plastic and it could be recycled by microbes, it'd still be dependent on people throwing their plastic bags in the right container (or any container, for that matter).

    we'll still have people throwing them out the window and on the ground
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    James Madison

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    Good question, I have no idea. I saw that part of the article and would think she gets more than 150 uses out them, but don't know for sure. The hard part is that they get used for other things as well, which very well may cause them to break down faster than they should.
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  5. #5

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    George Mason

    Default

    ah, i didn't even factor in the other uses... good point.

    i have a buddy who preaches the use of these things, so i'm going to ask him how much use he gets out of them.

    but here's some quick math, if my wife and i were to use them:

    we go to safeway twice a month. (roughly, we have little stops here and there. ones where we'd probably forget our bag anyways)
    thats 24 times a year
    so it'd have to last us 6-7 years just to break even.
    even if i'm grossly underestimating how often we go to safeway, and double the trips, they'd have to last 3-3.5 years just to break even. thats absurd in my opinion.
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    Florida Atlantic

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    That's pretty crazy as well as eye opening - I've always tried to reuse the plastic bags as much as possible (I take my lunch in them over and over, for example) and also for garbage. I had no idea I was helping the environment as well!

    Definitely counter intuitive.
    Last edited by Lanky Livingston; 06-18-12 at 05:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goaldeje View Post
    My wife uses the reusable bags when she goes grocery shopping. They're like tote bags, so you can use them until they wear out.

    Still though, we have a huge amount of plastic bags under the sink in the kitchen. Ridiculous, really. It's like you just can't get away from the things.
    hmmm...eat less! not only do you preserve the environment....you make Moochelle happy!
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    Florida Atlantic

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    Okay, thought about this more last night. I wonder if this study looked at environmental impacts in a vaccuum, or in a landfill setting? Because they argue that landfills are mostly sealed, and nothing decompses anyway, right? So then you would want to limit the sheer volume of what is going into the landfills. I think that is the main purpose of the cloth reusables; to limit the amount of waste going into landfills. Yeah, if you just went and threw all your plastic bags, paper bags and cotton bags into the ocean, it might be better if you threw plastic bags for the environmental impact. Assuming, however, that the majority of people actually put their garbage into a garbage container that makes its way eventually to a landfill, I think the cloth bags are still the way to go.
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    Minnesota

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    Quote Originally Posted by tshile View Post
    Side note: I like how the foxnews journalistic qualities are leaking into the other newscorp organizations, in this case wall street journal. to further push the newscorp agenda they offer statistical analysis like this:
    "This wide-varying amount of reuse that is required until the breakeven point is reached depends upon the type of environmental impact, but the median is 314 times, and it is more 179 times for all but one of the 9 impact categories."
    when anyone with any education in the field of statistics (and mine is very minimal, mind you) understands that a median presented by it self like that is utterly useless. They didn't show us the standard deviations (which would be a minimum) or give us any other context to work with. Journalism is the new lost art
    Just wanted to comment on this side note

    I agree that the use of statistics is pretty useless if you're just throwing random stats out there. No one statistic provides any valuable insight into a data set, and it's frustrating to see "journalists" use stats to try to sound like they know what they're talking about.

    Also, the standard deviation is only useful if they gave the mean. And the median would be much more useful if they'd also give the min, max, and upper and lower quartiles. Though they should ideally give all of these stats, and explain why each is useful.

    At least they are trying, though. I guess. I read "news" on yahoo that is seriously based entirely on celebrity tweets.

    BTW, I use re-usable bags most of the time. I'm trying to get better at remembering them (currently have a plastic bag graveyard in the bottom of my pantry). If I do get plastic bags, they are later used as trash bags.
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    So their premise is don't worry about whether or not what you use can decompose because modern day landfills inhibit decomposition?

    That's comforting.
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    George Mason

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    I think their premise is more along the lines of, this was legislation pushed through with everyone screaming 'plastic bags hurt the environment'. but instead of coming up with a thoughtful, reasonable approach that benefited the environment they just banned plastic bags. the result? people are using paper bags and 'reusable bags' that are much worse...

    i mean, thats typical government work and general public mentality, unfortunately.

    it should be reevaluated and done in a way that hurts the environment less and benefits consumers.
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  12. #12

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    Florida Atlantic

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    Quote Originally Posted by tshile View Post
    I think their premise is more along the lines of, this was legislation pushed through with everyone screaming 'plastic bags hurt the environment'. but instead of coming up with a thoughtful, reasonable approach that benefited the environment they just banned plastic bags. the result? people are using paper bags and 'reusable bags' that are much worse...

    i mean, thats typical government work and general public mentality, unfortunately.

    it should be reevaluated and done in a way that hurts the environment less and benefits consumers.

    Well, if landfills are in fact "contained" as mentioned in the article, then the only thing we should worry about is the sheer volume we put in them. If this is the case, resuable bags are clearly the way to go.
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  13. #13

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    I don't worry about plastic or paper because we recycle both. Wouldn't recycling make most of this discussion moot?
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    Quote Originally Posted by renaissance View Post
    Just wanted to comment on this side note

    I agree that the use of statistics is pretty useless if you're just throwing random stats out there. No one statistic provides any valuable insight into a data set, and it's frustrating to see "journalists" use stats to try to sound like they know what they're talking about.

    Also, the standard deviation is only useful if they gave the mean. And the median would be much more useful if they'd also give the min, max, and upper and lower quartiles. Though they should ideally give all of these stats, and explain why each is useful.

    At least they are trying, though. I guess. I read "news" on yahoo that is seriously based entirely on celebrity tweets.

    BTW, I use re-usable bags most of the time. I'm trying to get better at remembering them (currently have a plastic bag graveyard in the bottom of my pantry). If I do get plastic bags, they are later used as trash bags.

    and none of those statistical categories mean anything if the data type itself doesn't lend itself to those sorts of inference structures (e.g., assigning numbers to categories and deriving false false averages)
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  15. #15

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    Default

    Add in the fact that they're convenient, and I'll take the plastic bags. And depending on the items, paper bag, inside the plastic bag.

    Besides, once they figure out how to use it as fuel for the flux capacitor, we'll all be drinking that three bubble up, and eating that rainbow stew.
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  16. #16

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    George Mason

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    I don't worry about plastic or paper because we recycle both. Wouldn't recycling make most of this discussion moot?
    well, not unless recycling changes the way the paper bags are made to begin with? I think it's the production of the paper bags that's so harmful, but i may have read incorrectly.
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  17. #17
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    Navy

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    I bought my reusable bags about 4 years ago gave most to my mom.
    A couple of stores around here give you a nickel bag credit on your purchase
    Also if packed correctly the reusable bags hold as much as 3-5 plastic bags
    So using one reusable bag is saving between 6-10 plastic bags a trip
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