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Environment-Friendly Economic Incentives

Right now you buy a coffee at Starbucks (or any other café), you get a non-recyclable paper cup lined with plastic. Not only it’s bad for your health (hot beverages leech out cancer-promoting chemicals from plastic), it’s obviously bad for the environment. These cups can only be taken to the landfill. They are not recyclable, though they are partially made of recycled materials. I say they should by default give you a ceramic mug, unless you specifically ask for a cup “to go”, and possibly charge extra 10-15 cents for it.

I see several benefits to this:

  • Drinks taste better from ceramic mugs
  • It’s much more pleasant to take a few minutes off and sit down at a café than rush off and drink burning hot beverage on the run
  • No more non-recyclable waste
  • And I’m sure it would actually be cheaper for Starbucks to wash and reuse the mugs

The same thing can be said for plastic bags. I think they should charge at least $0.10 for each plastic bag you use. I can’t stand it when people ask cashiers to double bag everything. Most people easily use 10-12 plastic bags in one visit to the grocery store. I feel guilty even using one.

If you don’t care for sea animals choking and dying from plastic bags, consider this:

“When plastic bags disintegrate, they break down into small plastic molicules and now those molicules are being found in the ocean and in actual seafood products. So when we consume these fish and lobster, we’re actually injesting the molicules of plastic bags.”

Ireland did this years ago:

“A tax on plastic shopping bags in the Republic of Ireland has cut their use by more than 90% and raised millions of euros in revenue.”

People will take the easy way out, unless there’s a monetary punishment. Instead of giving incentives for doing good, I believe we must be punished for doing bad.