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KNOWLES: Banning Plastic Is Stupid, For Us And The Environment
A Woman Buys Groceries In San Francisco In June 2007
(Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

On Tuesday’s episode of “The Michael Knowles Show,” Knowles discusses why plastic bans are inconvenient for people and actually harmful for the environment. Video and partial transcript below:

[San Francisco’s] plastic water bottle ban is incredibly stupid, and it’s not just stupid because it won’t have that much of an impact. It’s stupid because the purpose isn’t to help the environment; the purpose is just to harm you. Like all of these other regulations and bans, it’s not about the environment — it’s about inconveniencing you. Here’s how you know by the way. In San Francisco Airport now, the ban is only affecting water bottles. But you know you go into the store at the airport or any deli or any convenience store, they don’t just sell water bottles. They sell soda bottles, ice tea bottles, Gatorade juice drinks, all these different kinds of drinks. All of those are fine at San Francisco airport. The only one you can’t get is a water bottle.

Why is it? Because travel dehydrates you. I’ve learned this the hard way. One time I flew to New York for a bachelor party. So I was already a little dehydrated. I get on the airplane, I forgot that travel dehydrates you. I felt like I was in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Men lose up to half a gallon of water from their bodies during a ten-hour flight. It’s a lot of water. And and you are also not allowed to bring any liquid past security in airports. So what are you supposed to do now? You’re supposed to suffer. That’s it. I guess you could bring — I don’t know a metallic water bottle or a reusable water bottle that’s empty through security and then go to the one water fountain, somewhere in the airport, or you can go into the airport bathroom and fill up your water bottle. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Doesn’t that sound really appetizing? Or you can suffer. And that’s what they want you to do — they want you to suffer. The whole point of this is [for] inconvenience.

You saw this with the plastic grocery bag ban. So three years ago in California — other states have followed suit — but in 2016 in California, they banned single-use plastic grocery bags. New York followed California this past March. And when they did that, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that the ban would “reduce litter in our communities, protect our water and create a cleaner and greener New York for all.” So that’s what happened, right? That’s obviously what happened. No, actually, of course not — plastic pollution got significantly worse.

We haven’t seen the effect in New York yet because it just happened — but in California the ban actually caused more plastic pollution. How did it do that? How do we know that? There was a study out of the University of Sydney that showed that the ban on the single-use, a little thin nothing plastic grocery bag, led to a massive increase in the sale of thicker more environmentally damaging plastic garbage bags. You know, the kind you line your garbage with at home. How does that work? What is the relationship between grocery bags and garbage bags that none of these economists or none of these regulators or none of these environmental activists could have thought of? Well, you know from your own use.

Back in the good old days when we had plastic grocery bags, you would go [and] get all your groceries, and then you’d save your plastic grocery bags, Right? And if you’re anything like my family, you’d save like three hundred of them — you’d never use as many as you actually got. So you just have them in a pantry somewhere, but you would use them. You would slowly use them, and the way you would use them is to line your small little trash bins. And that was very easy, it was actually an organic way to recycle. Because you got these bags, you don’t want to go out and buy new garbage bags, there’s no reason to do that. So you figure okay, make use with that, throw your trash away, put that in the trash, throw it out. You’re good to go. Now that you can’t do that — now that those bags don’t exist — people have to line their trash bins somehow. So they’re going out there buying much more environmentally damaging bags.

Ok, well at least it’s better as far as the grocery bags themselves are concerned. Right? Wrong. Another study showed that paper bags, which is what replaced the single-use plastic bags, are actually worse for the environment than the single-use plastic bags. How do we know that? Britain’s environmental agencies showed in 2011 that far back eight years ago that you would have to reuse a paper bag a paper grocery bag three times if you wanted to bring its environmental impact down to the level of a single-use plastic bag. Now do you ever reuse paper bags? No, nobody does. You just throw them out. Ironically, you do reuse the environmentally pretty-fine plastic bags, but you don’t reuse the paperback, so they’re actually much worse for the environment. Why is that? It takes a lot more energy to make the paper bags. You have to create the pulp, you have to manufacture the paper bag, and all of that energy and all of that time you could have just made that single-use very thin plastic bag from oil.

Ok then, Michael, you conservative, you anti-environmentalist. Then forget the plastic bags. Forget the paper bags. I know! I know the way that we can save the environment, right? This is what all the activists tell you. At the grocery store checkout, what they tell you, you can buy one of those reusable cotton bags. You ever see that, all those are great bags, right? That’s the best. That’s when you really want to protect the planet from global warming, you buy those bags. All the most liberal people you know have those bags. They bring them back and forth. That’s better for the environment, right? No, that’s the worst for the environment of all.

A headline from courts came out just this past April quote, “Your cotton tote is pretty much the worst replacement for a plastic bag.” Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the scientists 2013 study from Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food, [which] found that cotton shopping bags need to be reused — how many times you want to guess? So if you want, if you want to bring the paper bag down to the environmental impact level of a plastic bag, you have to reuse it three times. Yeah, [how] many times you got to reuse a cotton shopping bag? Twenty thousand times. I’m not going to go to the grocery store twenty thousand times in my life.

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