Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Paper and plastic and foam, oh my!

Eric Pfaff, Intern

The local environmental blogs are buzzing: The Seattle City Council has approved a fee for plastic grocery bags and a ban on foam food containers. Despite the obvious benefits of a “green fee” for plastic bags and banning foam food containers, Kaitlin, Mikaila, and I started thinking about it.

“What?” you ask. “Aren't you environmentalists? Don't you love the earth?”

Brian Naasz, an Earth Ministry board member and my former chemistry professor, taught me that we must look at all sides of an argument: paper is not necessarily “better” than plastic; Styrofoam cups aren't necessarily “worse” than ceramic mugs. It depends on the angle you take, and the trick is to fit all the angles together.

Mikaila and Kaitlin took a social justice stance on the recent decision, and I looked at it through energy consumption of plastic bags versus reusable bags. The City of Seattle looks at the ban as a means of waste reduction. Each lens brings its own benefits and problems.

Go here ( to read news articles, references and information on the decision, and also find out what other local governments around the world do. I would also recommend the FAQ, written by the City of Seattle, which answered some of our questions.

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