Renewables? Or not?

The Wall Street Journal published two front page articles in March 2011 on the battle raging between renewables (tree-based paper bags and wood pallets) and nonbiodegradables (fossil fuel-based plastic bags and plastic pallets).

The WSJ is also currently running a poll asking if nonbiodegradable plastic bags should be banned.

On Tuesday, March 29, 10:00 Pacific Time, poll results stand at 59.3%  (1,165) voting to ban the plastic bag vs. 40.7% (800) to keep it. (Forever!) 

Plastic bags may be losing the public relations battle but most of those voting to ban plastic bags are sitting at their computers surrounded by it. Their feet are encased in fake “fleece” booties and rest on nylon carpets. They’re wearing “eco-fleece” bathrobes, jackets and jumpers, all just various forms of plastic (synthetic clothing).

It is much more likely that modern man wears more plastic than he carts or carries.

At least the carpeting is recycled into more carpeting in a closed loop process. But the rest of it, too much of it, nonbiodegradable plastic in all its many forms, ends up buried in landfills, abandoned on our highways and byways, washed into ravines where its plugs up drainage ditches and sullies our waterways.

And we ban drilling in most of the US and off our coasts so we spend a fortune producing this raw material overseas and defending such interests with taxpayer dollars. What was originally just “cheap plastic” is costing us a fortune. 

We recognize such discussions can get heated. After all, look at all the mud that’s been slung over the years at renewable, recyclable, biodegradable clothing that’s been our choice since the Stone Age, the oldest natural fiber clothing on the planet: fur.

So, how do you vote on this issue? Paper or plastic or natural fiber canvas? Wood or plastic pallets? Natural fiber or synthetic clothing?

Considering the cost of overseas wars, should we “drill baby drill” here in the US to produce our fuels and plastics?

Perhaps, factoring in the long term impact of nonbiodegradable plastics, we should applaud sustainably produced renewables — when they make sound economic sense and have markets excited to receive them.

Makes sense to me.


“Plastic Bags on Our Backs” by Teresa Platt, March 14, 2008.

“Loaded Issue: Pallet Makers Sling Mud Over Who’s Greenest: Wood Guys Fight Plastic in Unpalatable Dispute; Tainted Butter ‘Smear’ Lands in Court,” Wall Street Journal, March 2011

Paper or Plastic? A Lawyer’s Answer Sends Him From Hero to Pariah: San Francisco Cheered as He Fought Oreos, But Jeered as He Battles for His Bag of Choice,” Wall Street Journal, March 2011 

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