Talking Trash: Hawaii First State to Ban Plastic Bags – More to Follow?

This post launches a new site category for us – Politics. The idea made me a little reticent at first – religion and politics are still dangerous topics to raise among circles of friends and acquaintances – even virtual ones. But they’re also hard to avoid – especially when politics can affect so many aspects of our daily lives.

Take the politics of trash, for instance. Our landfills are overburdened, and across America our landSCAPES are burdened by the all-too-familiar sight of those cheap white plastic shopping bags drifting and spiraling in the wind along the roadsides, and every place else imaginable.


They’re a hazard to wildlife, and an unsightly blight on our beautiful land. But they’re also incredibly cheap and convenient, and retailer associations cling to their right to use plastic bags even harder than Clint Eastwood clings to his gun. If you’ve never thought about this as a political issue, think again.

The big news this month is that Hawaii just became the first state to ban the use of plastic shopping bags by retailers. Paper only from now on in the Aloha State! The State didn’t actually enact the law; each populated island/County issued a ban on their own. Oahu had been the last one to hold out, but they passed their ban on July 1 this year so that now bags are banned on every island in the chain.


Movements like this usually start in the West. In Portland, where I live, plastic shopping bags have been banned for a couple of years now. Every merchant, large and small, has switched over to paper. Ditto San Francisco and Seattle. In fact, the California Legislature recently attempted to ban the bags statewide.

Go to the next page to find out what happened to that attempt, and read about Seattle and San Francisco’s crazy “garbage inspection” programs!

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