The water was tranquil, with hardly a ripple as far as the eye could see.
Dad had gone around the corner in the boat while the rest of us stayed on the long gray gravel beach. He returned a short while later with the floating dock from our cabin in tow. He anchored it off shore about 20 feet. From it, my brother and cousins and I could use it as a diving platform into the icy clear waters.
You could see the ocean bottom with bright orange and red starfish, green sea urchins and the occasional fish swimming by. For hours we would brave those frigid waters and splash about, and then back on to the dock to thaw in the high summer sun.
Yes, growing up in Homer with our backyard being Kachemak Bay was a blessing. It is with pride that I reflect on my choice to also raise my family here in Homer, and in turn my oldest daughter is likewise raising her children here.
Some of my favorite memories include fishing in the rich waters of the bay and Cook Inlet; hiking the banks of the crystal clear Rocky River; and my weekly visits to Bishops Beach to clear my mind.
I share these memories with you to explain, yes, I love not only the lifestyle of living in Alaska, but I also have a tremendous amount of respect for her environment.
So why not support a ban on thin plastic single use bags?
Because the law banning these thin plastic bags is a feckless law designed not to reduce pollution; rather it is designed to change your behavior. The proof of this is in the commentary by the councilmen who proposed the law: “Nice to see more people bringing their own bags to the store.” Not once have they mentioned seeing fewer bags in our waters; and after all it was the nature of these bags and their ability to float that was used as the impetus of this law (tax increase).
It was never about pollution; it is a behavior modification law with the specific goal of changing the way you shop. It feels good to be part of a movement that could eliminate the massive garbage patch in the ocean; or prevent even one sea turtle from confusing a floating bag with food and choking to death.
This is a law that “sounds too good to oppose.” When you look closer you realize that plastic bags are not banned, just the ones that allow vendors to provide them as part of the natural course of doing business. If they hand out the thicker bags they will have to charge for them; this is a tax.
Already stores have brought in pallet loads of paper bags. Imagine the carbon footprint expansion based on shipping these thousands of pounds of bags to the end of the road, in addition to the massive expense. Not to mention the countless trees that must be sacrificed to meet this growing demand.
I’m not sure about you, but the thin plastic “single use” bags that have been banned were never single use in my household. We use and reuse these bags for lunches, trash can liners and many other uses.
In closing, remember also that not all thin bags have been banned; you are still able to put your organic kale, nuts, bolts and more in the very thickness of bag that has been banned, and these bags are truly single use. And yes, the city of Homer is still giving these thin bags away to entomb your animal’s excrement at sensitive beach locations.
The argument that you hear most often is, “it’s not that hard to remember your own bag.”
When we start allowing a city council or any elected body to modify your behavior into the image they see fit, it’s only a matter of time before all freedom to choose is forfeited in favor of laws designed to sound too good to oppose.
There are ways to prevent pollution and promote better stewardship of our environment without encroaching on our freedoms. Choose freedom while you still can.
Chris Story is the owner-broker of Story Real Estate and the host of Alaska Matters, a radio show that airs every Tuesday on KGTL AM620.