As a businessman and business enthusiast, I understand why plastic bag manufacturers are using every ploy at their disposal to prevent cities such as Santa Barbara from prohibiting the use of their products. Nevertheless, I support a ban and hope the City Council will take a big stand by taking a small step.

I say a “small step” because banning plastic bags reduces only one source of waste, but potentially increases paper bag use, and that is also harmful to our environment. The ban does not solve our environmental problems, but it might focus our attention on the creation of better solutions.

Is there not a business opportunity for producers and marketers of reusable bags and carts? Could local stores give away reusable Chico Bags with a minimum purchase? Could local schools sell reusable bags as fundraisers? Do consumers really have a need or desire for disposable paper or plastic grocery bags?

While traveling in Rwanda this summer, I was impressed that a country of so little means possessed so much courage in facing its challenges. It has banned plastic bags to protect the natural environment. It hasn’t been easy and new challenges have arisen, including the enforcement of such laws, but if this struggling Third World nation can try it, so can we.

The council can take a big stand by saying that the environment is a priority, and a high enough priority of which to take risks. The council needs to govern based on its highest responsibility: the health and well-being of residents.

Let’s start with this ban, and keep looking for better solutions.

Paul Orfalea
Santa Barbara