A friend just sent me a news article about how reusable cloth shopping bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic bags. I think the article was misleading and essentially clickbait because it only spoke specifically about cotton and organic cotton reusable shopping bags, and almost all of my reusable ones are not made from cotton at all. What about all those other non-cotton reusable bags? That’s the first “hmmm” moment I had about the article.
The second moment came when the article said reusable bags cause far more damage because of the footprint that goes into making them…but then it acknowledged that the study being quoted here didn’t take ocean waste into consideration, which is where the majority of single use plastic bags end up. That’s like saying “the sun does not cause skin damage,” then acknowledging you didn’t actually look at skin damage caused by the sun. If you’re talking about what happens to a thing but disregarding what happens to the majority of that thing, you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. It’s absurd.
So I thought the article was largely junk. But there was one part that I agreed with, which was that the best thing to do was reuse all bags as much as possible and then recycle them when they’re no good anymore…
…Unfortunately, that’s useless advice because no one in North America cares enough to follow it. And I think that is our fatal flaw in all things: we know what we should do to improve things, but virtually none of us do it if it takes any effort whatsoever.
For example, there is a stretch of highway around here that is notorious for fatal accidents. What is the simplest, cheapest, most effective solution? Well, people could just drive slower on that highway.
But that doesn’t happen. Instead, the highway has been rebuilt countless times, widened, and barriers added throughout almost its entire stretch — all to the tune of millions of dollars spent over decades, and years of gridlocked traffic during construction. And guess what. Accidents still occur, because people are still driving too fast.
The moral of the story here is we are too impatient and self-centered to do the right thing. So yeah, people should just reuse their plastic bags and then recycle them when they’re done, but it will never, ever happen because we’re all too lazy and thoughtless to do it. We will always do the easier thing, even if it costs us mountains in money, life, freedom, etc.
In other words, humans are shit.