It’s not uncommon to see a plastic bag fluttering across a grocery store parking lot on a windy day in Moscow or Pullman.
The bags get caught on signs, fences and tall grass. We wonder why humans aren’t as willing to catch them as they pass. Even on a gustless day, some wouldn’t care to pick up one of the bags if they walked right over it. The shopping cart attendant will probably pick it up, most assume.
We’ve all been there.
It’s unfortunate, but ending the plastic problem starts with putting an end to plastic bags altogether.
Moscow fourth-grader Emerson Shuffield is taking steps to ban plastic bags, at least in her city.
She had the aha moment while learning about the plastics polluting our oceans and killing wildlife.
Unfortunately, the bag ban doesn’t come without jumping through hoops.
Last year the Idaho Legislature decided to ban all such bans on the local level. Now, the only ones able to impose a plastic bag ban are the lawmakers who tailored the law.
It leaves every community in Idaho without the ability to reduce its use of the bags. Meanwhile, the problem intensifies with every piece of plastic that flutters by. How many of those bags are blowing through Idaho’s forests right now?
Shuffield is working with Idaho Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow, to rewrite the law and ban the bags in Moscow.
We hope she succeeds and we question why a state would benefit by not allowing local level plastic bag bans.
Many big ideas start small.
It will probably take the state years to address the problem, much slower than it would have been addressed locally. Why not let Idaho’s small communities work through and resolve the issue locally?
State legislatures don’t have a monopoly on bright ideas. Legislators relay those ideas from the constituents they represent. Or at least, they are expected to.
We hope Shuffield, 10, can change their minds and ban plastic bags in Moscow. Without a ban, we’ve proven we can’t — or perhaps won’t — change our behavior despite the cost.
— Josh Babcock, for the editorial board