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In the UK, The Times reports that “scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims … Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals.”

The story comes as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that supermarkets will be forced to charge for plastic bags, as the UK government launched an offensive designed to minimize the use of plastic bags. But critics of the government say that the government is jumping on a bandwagon based on faulty science.
KC's View:
I was directed to this story by an MNB user who clearly is frustrated by my continued support of programs that promote the use of reusable cloth bags instead of disposable bags.

But I have to be honest. This story doesn’t do anything to change my mind.

One of the frustrations of being a consumer in today’s world is that I have no idea how to interpret the story. It is written from the perspective that the government is wrong and the critics are right…but I don't know how to gauge the bias. Are there as many scientists who would dispute the argument that plastic bags don't hurt wildlife? I don't know. One thing is for sure – look hard enough, and you can find a so-called scientist who will support any position. (I’m consistently amazed that there are people who call themselves scientists who question evolution and the idea that mankind might be having an impact on global warming.)

So for the sake of this discussion, I’m willing to concede the faulty science argument. But to me, it doesn’t matter.

It seems simply a matter of common sense that the use of canvas bags that do not get thrown out is better for the environment than the use of bags that do get thrown out. It seems a matter of common sense that the more we can reduce waste in our world, the better.

I went shopping yesterday, and I filled 10 canvas sacks with groceries. (One of my sons is home from college for the week, so I had to stock up.) I didn’t use any plastic bags. Those canvas sacks went back into the back of the car when I was done with them, where they will be used next time I go shopping.

I’m not thinking about litter. Not thinking about wildlife. I’m just thinking about reducing waste, and trying to make it an ongoing and persistent habit.

Which strikes me as both environmentally sensitive and common sense, no matter what arguments scientists want to have.