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Will A Plastic Bag Tax Help The Environment?

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This week, the El Paso City Council voted to explore a plastic bag tax.

Washington D.C. requires stores to collect five cents per plastic bag from customers. In the program's first month, the plastic bag tax generated $150,000 in revenue, and reduced the number of plastic bags given out from 22 million to 3 million.

And that's where things get tricky.

--The plastics industry is the third-largest manufacturing sector in the United States, employing more than 1.1 million people. Fewer plastic bags=fewer jobs.

--Paper bag manufacturing generates 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.

--It takes 91% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.

An additional tax on an already-stretched population is unnecessary. What IS necessary, however, is for people to dispose of their plastic bags--and all other garbage--in a responsible way. Or, if you really hate plastic, get yourself a reusable bag. It's that simple. The great Pacific garbage patch didn't suddenly appear because all the plastic bags in the world got together in a smoke-filled room and decided, as a group, that they'd like to live communally in the middle of the ocean. The great Pacific garbage patch is there because people can't be bothered to act like normal human beings and put their plastic where it belongs.

In the meantime, have a look at this short film, narrated by Jeremy Irons, titled "The Majestic Plastic Bag."

And make sure to keep an eye out for a phenomenally over-cautious PC moment at 1:46. It's worth it. Trust me.

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