In supermarkets, we see more and more people utilizing grocery bags which are friendlier ecologically than plastic bags. Reusable bags not only help the environment, but are a lot more sturdy than the conventional grocery bags.

This week, the city of Brownsville, Texas took a controversial action which seems to be growing in popularity with politicians worldwide. They've banned the plastic grocery bags.

Officials of the city say the ban isn't totally based on their commitment to going green. Their road crews are picking up more and more plastic bags strewn along the highways.

Discarded plastic bags are clogging the city's drainage system.

In November, Los Angeles County instituted a plastic bag ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide.

The new regulation states, "No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag." An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items.

If grocers in Los Angeles choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance. The revenue will be retained by the stores to purchase the paper bags and educate customers about the law.

In Italy, a national ban on plastic bags became effective Jan. 1.

Theoretically the idea of banning plastic bags sounds good. Bit in reality it isn't practical at the present time.

Plastic bags are as much as four times cheaper for stores to purchase than paper bags. As a result, smaller businesses will face more of a burden using only paper.

Also, plastic bags are easier to carry than paper bags. Try sending your child to the store for a few groceries and have him or her bring them home in a paper bag. Not only is there a good chance your bread will be crushed and tomatoes juiced, but carrying paper is more dangerous for a biker.

We should be weaning people to use more ecologically friendly bags paper, reusable canvas, etc.

A downright ban on them is impractical and would be difficult to enforce. One problem with government is they make too many unenforceable regulations, during which selective enforcement comes into play.

Creative minds must come up with an alternative for plastic bags. Paper isn't always the answer.

The manufacturing of plastic bags requires using oil, which is becoming more precious.

Hopefully the near future has plastic bags being replaced with something more ecologically and just as economically friendly.

An outright ban on them is just asking too much. A more logical way to approach this is to come up with an alternative for shoppers that make the consumer want to use, not be forced to use.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com [1]