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Posts from September 2022

The well-intentioned law seeks to cut down on waste and single-use plastics…

This month in unintended consequences:

Shared Article from nytimes.com

Why Do Some People in New Jersey Suddenly Have Bags and Bags of …

A ban on single-use plastic and paper bags in grocery stores had an unintended effect: Delivery services switched to heavy, reusable sacks — lots of…


Why Do Some People in New Jersey Suddenly Have Bags and Bags of Bags?

By Clare Toeniskoetter
Sept 1, 2022

Nicole Kramaritsch of Roxbury, N.J., has 46 bags just sitting in her garage. Brian Otto has 101 of them, so many that he’s considering sewing them into blackout curtains for his baby’s bedroom. (So far, that idea has gone nowhere.) Lili Mannuzza in Whippany has 74.

I don’t know what to do with all these bags, she said.

The mountains of bags are an unintended consequence of New Jersey’s strict new bag ban in supermarkets. It went into effect in May and prohibits not only plastic bags but paper bags as well. The well-intentioned law seeks to cut down on waste and single-use plastics, but for many people who rely on grocery delivery and curbside pickup services their orders now come in heavy-duty reusable shopping bags — lots and lots of them, week after week.

While nearly a dozen states nationwide have implemented restrictions on single-use plastic bags, New Jersey is the only one to ban paper bags because of their environmental impact. The law also bans polystyrene foam food containers and cups, and restricts restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless they’re requested.

Emily Gonyou, 22, a gig worker in Roselle Park who provides shopping services for people through Instacart, said she was surprised when she learned the delivery company had no special plans for accommodating the ban. They pretty much said, OK, do exactly what you’re doing, but with reusable bags, she said.

. . . Compared to single-use plastics, the more durable reusable bags are better for the environment only if they are actually reused. . . . [A] typical reusable bag, manufactured from polypropylene, must be used at least 10 times to account for the additional energy and material required to make it. . . .

The goal of bag bans is to reduce reliance on single-use plastics like the thin bags that became ubiquitous decades ago . . . . Paper bags are sometimes seen as an eco-friendly alternative because they are more recyclable and made from trees, a renewable resource, yet they take significantly more energy to produce.

The ban in New Jersey, which applies to grocery stores 2,500 square feet or bigger, is meant to encourage in-store shoppers to skip single-use plastic and paper entirely, and instead bring their own reusable bags.

But that, of course, doesn’t work for most online orders. . . .

. . . Dr. Miller said the bag situation in New Jersey was emblematic of a lot of environmental policies. If we don’t pay attention to the unintended impacts of policies such as the plastic waste ban, we run into the potential of playing environmental Whac-a-Mole, she said. We solve one environmental problem only to create or exacerbate another problem.

— Clare Toeniskoetter, Why Do Some People in New Jersey Suddenly Have Bags and Bags of Bags?
New York Times, 1 September 2022.

OC OTC, 2022 Edition

Shared Article from Ms. Magazine

The Case for Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills - Ms. Magazine

Over-the-counter birth control pills would help millions of U.S. women who experience barriers to contraception access.

Mimi Zieman @ msmagazine.com

Once againof course birth control should be available over-the-counter.

There is no reason but pure control-freak politics to require prescriptions from medical gatekeepers to pharmaceutical gatekeepers. — Oh, but what about side effects? The side-effects are minimal for most women, well-known after six decades of research, and not worse than the health effects of unplanned pregnancies. In any case the information is easy to understand and communicate, and ordinary women are perfectly capable in ordinary circumstances to come to their own decisions and make their own choices about the risks they want to take when it comes to their own bodies and their own health. — *Oh, but how will the insurance pay for it? If insurance won’t pay out without an Rx, then there’s no law that says a doctor can’t write an Rx for an over-the-counter medicine. In any case over-the-counter availability will also make oral contraceptives a lot cheaper and practically more accessible, even if it does become somehow harder to get insurance specifically to pay for them. This problem has already been solved in many cases with contraceptive products that are already available over the counter (like Plan B emergency contraceptives), and it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to extend it to this case.

If there’s no victim, there’s no crime. If it’s your body, it should be your choice. Free the Pill, and all political prisoners.

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