Politicians and environmentalists ban things that make our life more convenient, like single-use plastic bags.
But now, because of coronavirus, lots of places have suspended those bans. Some have even banned reusable bags.
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Why? Because, as we knew even before they banned them, single-use plastic bags are more hygienic. 97% of people never wash their reusable bags.
But, environmentalist groups call virus fears from reusable bags “misinformation”.
Alex Truelove of the Public Interest Research Group says, “there are no studies … that reusable bags are transmitting viruses.”
He’s right about the lack of human COVID-19 studies. But, in 2013, when millions of piglets died of a novel swine coronavirus, the Agriculture Department concluded that reusable feed bags were the likely cause.
After the virus fears diminish, politicians will put their plastic bag bans back in place.
“8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year,” explains Truelove.
Again, that’s true, and plastic pollution is a serious problem. But economics professor Ross McKitrck of the University of Guelph pushes back, saying, “Get some facts on the table about where that plastic comes from.”
Almost all of it comes from Asia and Africa. The North American fraction is less than 1%.
Banning cheap and convenient grocery bags may make politicians feel good, but when it comes to pollution, it won’t make a difference.