When B.J. Stolbov travels, he sometimes find answers; other times he finds more questions. During a recent trip to Korea, he was struck by the absence of public litter which triggered this essay about what is valuable and important in a culture and for its people.
by Eric Lucas
Birth control for bags.
That’s what I’m aiming for, but there is immense, widespread, billion-dollar opposition to my personal vendetta against plastic bags. Such as the grocery clerk at a golf resort I was visiting who told me:
“You have to take a bag. It’s the law.”
“Law?” I inquired. I admit I sounded skeptical. Possibly scornful.
“Liquor.” She pursed her lips and pointed to the six-pack on the counter. “State law. Gotta be in a bag. Paper or plastic?”
Ah, the question of the moment, wherever you go, at home, on the road… Bags. San Francisco banned plastic bags in 2007. Los Angeles ducked the issue in 2008, because the plastic bag lobby convinced them civilization would collapse. China, the oldest civilization around and not collapsed yet, banned the infernal things, hoping to curb the proliferation of them as neo-prayer flags hanging on trees, wires, fences and such, which is what I saw when I was there three years ago. And now my home city, Seattle, is about to vote whether to impose a 20-cent charge on bags. This has riled the plastic industry, which dumped a million bucks on convincing us Left Coasters that free plastic is essential to life. Like credit cards, only stretched out.