Tony Gehrig: Plastic Bag Ban Isn’t Needed in Fargo


T01.05.2017 -- Steve Kuchera -- 010617.N.DNT.PlasticbagsC1 -- Julie Weme leaves Mount Royal Market with several plastic shopping bags on Thursday. She normally uses re-usable cloth bags, but forgot to bring them on Thursday. Several groups are pushing for a Duluth city ordinance that would ban plastic shopping bags and put a $.05 charge on each paper shopping bag. Steve Kuchera /

After reading The Forum’s opinion, one would think Fargo is awash in plastic bags with garbage lining the streets. Every reasonable person can see through the hyperbole and identify the endgame is a ban on plastic bags.

Such bans originated mostly in west coast cities. These bans result in higher taxes and higher cost of goods to include groceries. Such government overreach results in hurting the most those who can least afford it. How progressive!

For many, plastic grocery bags are versatile and useful. College kids use them for trash bags instead of spending five bucks on full size bags. My neighbors use them when walking the dog, and others for kitty litter. Some families carry their kid’s clothes to the pool in them or for sleepovers. At the end of the day, we are trying to outlaw a useful and recyclable item that lowers costs for all and have utility for most.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]We already see most stores offer reusable bags at the checkout lines. Those who find it important buy them.[/mks_pullquote]

Such bans are lazy. If enough people tell the owners of Cash Wise and Hornbacher’s that they will only shop there if they stop offering plastic bags, then they will react. But that demand has not manifested. There is no petition to end their use.

Businesses would rather offer lower costs than bend to the will of a small minority of shoppers who already have the option of using reusable bags. As a result, we see cries from that minority for government intervention to “fix” the problem, while creating new and worse problems.

We already see most stores offer reusable bags at the checkout lines. Those who find it important buy them. Those who don’t, use disposable bags. That is the free market at work. In my family, my wife bought reusable bags years ago. Sometimes we use them, sometimes we forget. But that is a personal choice and that is what we need more of, not overreaching laws that force someone’s morality onto others. This is about personal responsibility and keeping government in its lane more than anything.

This is another non-issue being championed by the out of touch editorial board with an agenda to make us look and act more like Seattle, San Francisco, and Duluth. I for one will not play the game. Instead I will remain focused on Fargo issues like flood protection, property taxes, incentives, and public safety while keeping government in its lane and allowing the free market handle issues like plastic bags.