Paper or Plastic. Again?

September, 2013

Congratulations on the new Salinas Valley Sports Hall of Fame. A showcase of local legends is long overdue and will be a great incentive for our kids. Likewise, Salinas is loving its new Rob-a-Bank Stadium over where the old baseball Spurs/Peppers/Packers field used to be. The new park opened for business last week, and I do mean business. That opening night gala cost $100 to get in, I didn’t go. Admission to games – am I right – is $15 a bottom? Woa, don’t know if I’ll be making it to many of those either. Looks like there’s a decent view from the parking lot, so maybe that’s the way to go. Congratulations to North Salinas and Palma for finally getting to play on a shiny plastic field in instead of the old baseball yard or the dusty sod, downwind from the livestock pens at the Rodeo Grounds. They’re still next to the livestock pens, but the place just looks so much nicer.

When our kids were playing, we used to go over to the games with plastic bags full of peanuts, sodas and other goodies. I’d get a tri-tip sandwich in a little Styrofoam box. Now even those little pleasures are being legislated out of existence. The county is turning against plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes have already been outlawed. Who knows how long we’ll still be able to eat beef. Once the stuff of insider investment, plastic is being condemned as a threat to earth, sea and all that dwell therein. Recycle now, they demand, before the neoprene booted, anti-plastic Nazis come knocking down your door. What are bag people supposed to do? And what are we supposed to do with garbage, shredded paper and dirty diapers, shovel them into the street?

Ok, let’s recycle, but watch out for unintended consequences. “Post-consumer” plastic is recycled to make “lumber” for decks, fences, lawn and garden products, pallets, crates, containers, pipes and car parts. In other words, fake wood and more plastic. Take away the raw material for pallets and crates and what are the lumber, pallet and crate people going to do? Why, chop down trees, of course. Consider the irony of denuded old-growth forests sacrificed on the altar of recycled plastic. Sort of brings a tear to your eye like that Indian in those old commercials. And if the plastic guys can’t make car parts and pipes out of recycled bags, they’ll have to siphon crude oil away from your gas tank and you’ll be paying even more at the pump. I’m telling you, we’ve created a delicate ecological balance of plastic and economics that we just shouldn’t mess with if we want to preserve what’s left of our way of life.

The stupefying terror afflicting the bag haters, it seems, is that those plastic bags get into the ocean where they threaten Flipper and his smarter-than-humans buddies. So they get into the ocean. Big deal, everything gets into the ocean. Things have been dumped into the deep since before Noah cleaned up after the animals. It’s full of armadas, lost civilizations, dead whales and more than a little post-consumer waste. And yet it’s still our best source for calamari and sea salt for potato chips.

The county, with nothing better to do, wants to take away plastic bags and charge us a quarter a pop for a disease-spreading paper bag. Maybe we should balance the groceries on our heads like people in less plasticized civilizations. Here we go again. Save the forests, save the oceans, save the whales, save the planet, animals are people too, but give me your money. It’s a quarter today, but wait until the Feds pass the Affordable Bag Act that will raise prices every year. I don’t know how you see it but we’re out of money, paper or plastic. No money means we may have to rob a bank just to go to a game.