Letter: Falmouth bag ban will have 'unintended consequences'

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I’m a pretty engaged environmentalist. We grow grapes and crops organically in Falmouth. I recycle. Heck, I started the first wholesale wine division in California devoted to organic wine in the 1990s when organic was considered “way out there.” But I oppose a ban on plastic bags.

My reasoning is from personal experience. I was in Santa Monica, California, on vacation. I was walking around and found a nice local wine shop with interesting wines. I chose four bottles, put them on the counter, a good-sized sale ready to happen. As they were ringing me in I asked for a bag to carry them around while I walked more. Nope. Only a flimsy paper bag. The owner said “plastic bags are illegal” in Santa Monica. I left the wine on the counter and walked out. I couldn’t carry it; I couldn’t buy it. This is the law of “unintended consequences” relating to strict prohibitions on human activity by governments.

Banning plastic bags sounds like a good idea. How can you be against that, right? But there are other things at play we don’t see. The elderly couple who take the bus to Wal-Mart and forget their reusable bag. The tourist who needs something. There is always a consequence to prohibition that no one sees. Want to make the plastic bag fee 25 cents per bag and really make people think twice before forgetting their reusable bags in the car? OK. But banning plastic bags doesn’t make sense to me.

Steve Melchiskey