Fix the mess, bring back plastic bags

Plastic bag


We are huge fans of politics, with its attendant legerdemain and practiced sleight of tongue. Show the people one thing; hand them another.

A case in point: Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s showman-like dispatch of the city’s ridiculous 10-cent fee for disposable paper bags in retail establishments, such as grocery stores.

The fee is suspended for the duration, the Anchorage Daily News reports, but the city’s silly ban on single-use plastic bags remains in place. Good grief.

The fee was part of an ill-conceived ordinance that was supposed to “coerce people to change their behavior,” forcing them to shun single-use plastic bags and turn, instead, to paper bags, heavier reusable plastic bags or, worse, reusable fiber or cloth bags as part of the Left’s quest for environmental nirvana.

Unfortunately, reusable bags can be nasty, unsanitary things, bringing into stores all manner of cooties that end up in carts and on counters. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, who needs any more cooties to deal with? Most of us want to shop in a safe environment. Suspending the 10-cent fee for paper bags simply does not move us even an inch toward that goal.

To save us, if you will recall, the Anchorage Assembly ordered city retailers as of Sept. 15 to no longer provide shoppers with single-use plastic bags. It, instead, dictated they must provide paper bags upon request, and charge customers a dime for each for them. Many opted to bring their own bags.

At its best, Berkowitz’s fee suspension is a useless bit of political theater. The real problem, the single-use plastic bag ban, remains in place. While the mayor may have saved us all a few cents, the unsanitary, dangerous use of reusable bags remains a health threat and becomes more so each and every day.

The Assembly, the same group that gave us the ban in a 9-2 vote, should act to amend the ordinance and allow the use of single-use bags for the duration of this crisis – and beyond. And it should move quickly.

There are six seats up for grabs in the election. Four members running for re-election voted for the ban. You should call them.

Assembly members Christopher Constant, Felix Rivera, Pete Petersen and Suzanne LaFrance were in the group that happily rammed their we-know-best plastic bag ban down the city’s throat. Austin Quinn-Davidson, also standing for re-election, had not yet joined the Assembly for that 2018 vote. The sixth open seat is being vacated by Fred Dyson.

The Berkowitz fee ban did nothing to make us safer. It is time the Assembly fixed its mess.

Read the Anchorage Daily Planet here.


    • A study done at the University of Arizona showed that in a random sample of reusable bags more than 50% had coliform bacteria.

  1. The plastic bag law is classic liberal virtue signaling and nothing more, form over substance driven by a concern for hollow gestures.

  2. At least for the duration of this pandemic all reusable bags should be banned. Before someone says that there is no proof of transmission from reusable bags, there is no proof that they are unable to be a vector. Give us a paper or plastic bag, but do not allow reusable ones for the duration. If someone uses one in line before you, ask the cashier and bagger to sanitize before your items come in contact with anything contacted by reused bags. Public pressure may be more effective than our “representatives “.

  3. Thank you Suzanne. I never suffered. I bought a box of 1,000 + plastic bags back in Sept. I do not like reusable personal tote bags. I always knew they are dirty.

    Thank you, thank you for posting this news.

  4. A simple search apparently beyond the reach and research of our Assembly members deciding what is best for us:

    Back in 2011, researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University examined a sample of reusable bags from shoppers and found “large numbers of bacteria,” including dangerous fecal bacteria such as coliform, E. coli, and salmonella. Bacteria was found in 99% of the reusable bags, while no bacteria or viruses were found in a sample of disposable plastic bags and new reusable bags. Bacteria can easily be transferred from leaking meat packages as well as from fruits and vegetables, and the study found it grows in the bags that are stored in car trunks.

    Reusable bags also pick up bacteria and viruses from simply being held and carried around. A 2012 study found that nine members of a soccer team contracted the norovirus, a leading cause of food poisoning, from touching a reusable bag or eating food contained inside. The bag had been stored in a bathroom. That might seem like an outlier, but people cart these bags all over the place, touching surfaces on public transportation, taking them into public bathrooms, and other places, creating lots of opportunities for the bags to pick up bacteria and viruses.

    Yeah, and we are saving everything but the humans! Thanks Berkowitz et al (almost all!).

    • to Scott Rees. Extremely important input. I hope your writing gets published beyond MRAK. Anchorage needs to see this!

  5. This has got to be satire, a reusable bag is the least you should be worried about at a grocery store where hundreds to thousands of people are at throughout the day. If the reusable bag has the bad germs on it, so does the person carrying it. Even if they left their reusable bag at home and used plastic bags at the store, they’d be at the store with the germs anyway.

    • Pickin on poor Mike. I would not choose you for my debate team. You’re referencing oranges and apples and also universal dirt vs. clean. You were talking about two things, dirty people ( all of us germ-ridden people) who come through the check out lane and the actual check out lane/conveyor belt. The check out lane is your food’s last great chance to be clean if it’s inserted into a clean plastic bag vs. the vision of YOU climbing up on the conveyor belt and as the cashier scans your groceries, you serve as the bag, ( laying there on the platform) and stuffing groceries into your pockets. Mike, hope you’re a good sport and get into the action and encourage the Anchorage Assembly to rescind/recall/apologize and suspend the PLASTIC BAG BAN. If this isolation continues, all of us are going to need those plastic bags as Scott Rees referenced, as a very basic tool.

  6. And Mike, this would not even be a conversation if our “masters who know what’s best for us” (the Assembly members) had not voted to mandate stores CHARGE us for paper bags we likely don’t want and eliminate the sanitary plastic bags completely to encourage us to bring along bags that we carry and store many different places all week long. Those same bags from someone’s travels that week or month in their home, car, stores, floors, with their pets that are now sitting on the moving belt that you are about to set your food on. On its face, this sounds unsanitary to me. But the planet must be saved, remember?
    Here is one other unintended consequence of plastic bag bans some cities our now experiencing in our fair nation: Homeless people often pooped in these bags and tied them off as they put it in the dumpster. With the missing bags, cities are now dealing with disease from human feces on a level not seen three years ago.
    Again, public places have plenty of germs already. You are right, Mike. But when an action by our blessed Assembly virtually guarantees even more germs on ye ole conveyer belt, perhaps THAT should be the least of THEIR worries! Then again, maybe they don’t see crime, homelessness, or budget things as problems. Apparently not, Berk raised the annual budget by 14%, I believe (in one year!) despite losing population here. So plastic bags just may have been at the top of their list.

  7. ALL should understand, the Liberal Anchorage Assembly members would rather watch Alaskans die than admit they were wrong with this stupid left wing idea.
    The Assembly members will never change.

  8. There was a time when every store only had paper bags, then the left wing said we are cutting down too many trees, so in the left wing pee brains plastic bags would fix the problem. Now plastic bags creates litter so we are back to cutting down trees for out paper bags.
    Then back in 1994 the Left wing succeeded in banning the use of Coconut oil for popcorn in movie theaters, Now coconut oil for popcorn is sold by the gallon in Costco because it’s good for us.
    The left wing liberals are obsessed with making us live in a state of fear.!!!

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