Friday, October 28, 2011

Banning plastic isnít the answer


For more than a decade, I have manufactured and sold hats to people and organizations that appreciate the outdoors, respect the environment and have chosen to support an Idaho business. My business doesn't use plastic bags, but the consequences of the proposed ban on plastic bags need to be addressed and I can't help but ask, "Why would we try to ban a product that is 100 percent recyclable?"

That's the question I keep coming back to after the city of Hailey added the Plastic Bag Reduction Act to the Nov. 8 ballot.

If we as a community want to be stewards of the environment and reduce litter, the answer isn't to eliminate personal choice. The answer is to change personal behavior. Instead of sending a message of intolerance, let's focus on a more powerful message of sustainability and responsibility and lead the way by recycling.

Through my career and business practices over the years, I have been involved in the original development of fibers extruded from recycled soda bottles. These fibers have gone on to become mainstream within the apparel industry, used by such companies as Patagonia. This is proof of an alternative second use.

As a local, viable, environmental and internationally recognized company whose manufacturing facility is here in Hailey, I am concerned that people are not connecting the dots or educating themselves on all the details.

There are rumblings about the health issues involved in reusable bags. These health issues are personal and global. They involve not only storage, cleanliness of the bags and transfer of bacteria but also "what are these bags (made in China) really made of?" There are toxins in the fabrication. Please also consider the carbon footprint of purchasing a reusable bag made in China. It's huge!

"Shop local, buy local, keep our dollars local." This is a big slogan that applies not only to consumers but business owners and leaders in our community. Defining "local" is like a ripple starting in Hailey. Why would we not support a local manufacturing company in Jerome that is willing to help our community recycle plastics and create an alternative recycled plastic bag and employs families in Idaho, adding to the economy of Idaho, helping to build community statewide?

I encourage you to look up the definition of "community," educate yourself and then act locally. Jerome is local. China is not. Hailey is one part of Idaho. If we want our community to thrive, we need the intellectual and financial support of businesses and visitors from the ripples surrounding us.

Banning plastic bags isn't the answer. I'd urge Hailey voters to learn the facts for themselves because based on what I learned, I'll be voting no.

Jytte Mau is a Hailey business entrepreneur.

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