Two years ago, the U.S. News reported about Chinese/U.S. imports and exports. Believe it or not, scrap and trash was our capable nations top and fastest growing export to China. Chinese imports of U.S. cast-offs (scrap metal, waste paper and the like) surged by an eye-popping 916 percent over the 2000-2008 period, with the most of that expansion occurring after 2004.
To have a disposable culture where 90 percent of our purchases end up in a landfill within six months is a waste of resources and money. Although this practice is highly inefficient and destructive to our environment, short-term profit and convenience trumps efficiency.
Though we cannot change the national scene, we can act locally. Right now, we are all paying for disposable bags, whether we use them or not. That is why I am in favor of the city of Durango imposing a disposable bag ordinance for plastic and paper bags. Every merchant would charge a fixed amount for each bag, which would be collected by the city and go into a dedicated fund. First, this gives everyone the freedom to use disposable plastic bags, including myself should I forget my reusable one. Second, I am in favor of the collected funds to be divided between the city, the merchants incurring additional costs, and nonprofits working on sustainability issues and resource efficiency.
Although we cannot change national shopping habits, locally we can decide to charge for disposable bags, while benefitting our community and reducing our trash.