One of life’s little ironies concerns those plastic grocery sacks ubiquitous to just about every grocery and drug store and many others.
Remember when those were first introduced, back in the 1980s? Using them was considered friendly to the environment.
The alternative — brown paper sacks — required felling huge forests each year. Every plastic sack saved a bit of a shade-producing, carbon dioxide-consuming tree.
Hundreds of billions of that nettlesome Swedish invention later, we are reckoning with environmental and other issues they present.
Most of them are made from natural gas. When they degrade, which is slowly, they release chemicals into the groundwater.
They stuff our landfills, kill some wildlife, blow along our streets and get hung up in out-of-reach branches, too. They mar the environment.
Just take a walk on the Roanoke River greenway, as I did Tuesday, and keep your eyes peeled on waterside trees. You’ll spot those little litter flags fluttering in the breeze.
Today, Roanoke mowing crews spend as much time cleaning up litter as they do mowing grass on municipal land along city streets, City Manager Chris Morrill said.
The bags account for about 10 percent of the refuse mowing crews clean up, said city public works director Bob Bengtson. Unlike many other types of litter, the potential damage they can cause by getting fouled in mowing equipment is significant, he added.
Translation: City taxpayers, you’re footing the bill for those cleanup efforts.
That’s one of the reasons we should pay attention to a couple of bills floated in the General Assembly. One, by a Henrico County lawmaker, would impose a 20-cent tax on plastic grocery bags to discourage shoppers from using them.
Another bill, by Del. Onzlee Ware, would require that hair-thin plastic bags be thick enough to make them worth re-using.
That way, shoppers would be more likely to reuse them, and fewer would end up in public landfills, or as litter that needs to be cleaned up, reasons Ware, D-Roanoke.
“We need to raise the issue and talk about whether there’s something different we can be doing here,” said Ware, who’s opposed to a per-bag tax or fee.
A nickel-per-bag tax added in Washington, D.C. last year cut Washingtonians’ use of plastic by 86 percent — from 22 million bags per month to 3 million in January alone.
Back in November, when Roanoke.com conducted an unscientific web poll about plastic grocery sacks, 579 people cast ballots.
The question was: “Would you support restrictions on plastic bags?
About 34 percent voted “No, leave them alone.” Another 15 percent voted for a fee on the bags. And 48 percent said they should be banned.
Wednesday, I conducted my own man-on-the-parking-lot poll outside Kroger at Towers Shopping Center.
Greg Land, who was wheeling a shopping cart full of brown-paper-sack groceries through the parking lot, said a per-bag fee on plastic sacks “would be ridiculous.” In his house, “We recycle all the bags we use.”
“I wouldn’t be willing to pay a fee for them,” agreed Lloyd Hairston. “It’s like buying something you don’t have a purpose for.”
Brenda Dearing said she wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to a ban, provided Kroger gave away those reusable mesh sacks the grocery chain now sells for 99 cents each.
My wife uses those mesh bags. They’re far superior to plastic, because you can get more groceries into them. And they’re far superior to paper bags because they don’t rip.
But as for a fee, Dearing added,“I can hardly pay for my food now.”
Lobbyists for merchants already have lined up against bag legislation, which they argue could force retailers to pass along higher costs to customers.
Ware is right the issue should be talked about, perhaps studied.
But if you haven’t noticed, good sense is about as rare in Richmond these days as statues of Yankee generals.
Sure, Micheal Jackson, at one time, was a great musician. Who can forget the Jackson Five? Or ‘Ben,’ or ‘Never Can Say Goodbye,’ or ‘Thriller’?
But let’s be honest folks. That amazing pop star? He turned into a bizarre creature, not just in middle age, but well before that.
Long before Michael Jackson went on trial on charges of weirdness with young children, he was already really weird. He was an attractive guy who turned himself into a walking advertisement for the dangers of cosmetic surgery.
Nose jobs. Chin implants. Skin bleaching. Whatever. Addiction to painkillers. Impregnating his cosmetic surgeon’s assistant — how has never been quite answered.
A great talent turned himself into a freak of the tabloids, the courtrooms and the public consciousness. It was very sad to see him go down, but we’ve all seen the trajectory for years.
Golly, I had forgotten all about Laura Ingraham, the radio host unceremoniously dumped by WFIR-AM back on March 13. That was two whole weeks ago, or 672 lifespans of a Mayfly — or something like that.
Laura’s a useless hack and her show’s a godawful bore (IMHO) and I assume that’s why the only news talk station in all of Roanoke gave her the hook and replaced her with the useful Clark Howard. She wasn’t making them any money, duh.
Bear2mail (read anything you want into that handle), begs to disagree:
You’re an absolute idiot!! WFIR will lose valuable listeners without great programming like Laura Ingraham. You’ll be tossed aside with the likes of Air (not so fast) America and NPR. I wouldn’t advertise with such a short and I mean short sighted station. Actually it’s just a matter of time before we say good riddens to WFIR… Haa -By the way Laura Ingraham I know Don (who??) Casey I don’t. Some boring idiot I’m sure.
‘Riddens’ … right. That’s the proof Bear2mail is a genuine Ingraham fan. Or maybe it’s even Laura herself.
The trees outside Virginia Height Baptist Church got an unfortunate trim over the weekend.
What the heck happened to the beautiful blossoming Bradford pear trees outside Virginia Heights Baptist Church over the weekend? I’m not the only one who wants to know. It looks like Paul Bunyan took a giant buzz saw to the pretty little church plaza on Grandin Road at Memorial Avenue, next to the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op.
Blossoming Bradfords are beautiful but the wood in the trees is absolute junk. A little bit of rain and wind and their branches will split and fall faster than the Hokies did against Baylor on Saturday.
That’s one of the reasons why the city chopped down the Bradfords in Grandin Village and replaced them with sturdier European hornbeams and Natchez crepe myrtles when it widened the sidewalks and narrowed the roadway back in 2004.
Update: Tuesday afternoon, Harris sent me an email but had no comment.
I was at the Terps-Cal football game last fall with a motley crew of former college bad boys who’ve gone respectable: Skidar the economist; Bongin’ Bob the producer; Tony the tiger, a reporter feared all over Florida, and his beautiful columnist wife; Kurt the Pa. professor; Godfather Don and Scott, who Skidar calls “the big Jew” because he’s like 6′ 8″ or something.
The Terps were vast underdogs. But even early in the game it was obvious that the Terps were going to win big. And it wasn’t the action on the field that told me that.
It was the students from Cal in the stands. They were lame as could be. Read more »
The meeting drew nearly 200 people to Glenvar Middle School, just a stone's throw from the asphalt plant site.
This was the scene at Glenvar Middle School Thursday night, where residents of the Glenvar area of Roanoke County gathered to learn what they could do to fight a proposed asphalt plant in their neighborhood.
There were many reasoned arguments at the meeting, and a few emotions, and there was lots of discussion. Most of that centered on residents’ concern that heavy industry (that’s what an asphalt plant is) is inappropriate for a neighborhood with more than 500 homes, three schools and a church day care nearby. The plant would also be about a third of a mile upwind from one of the largest (if not the largest) assisted-living centers in the Roanoke Valley, Richfield Retirement Community.
The land is currently zoned for light industry, and Adams Construction Co., which wants to build the asphalt plant, has asked Roanoke County to change the designation to heavy industry. The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the issue April 28. Right now no land in Roanoke County north of West Main Street is for heavy industry.
The undisputed star of the meeting was a slideshow/video produced by Nicki Wilson, 10, a 5th-grader at Glenvar Elementary. I’m hoping to get a copy of that soon so we can present it on Roanoke.com.
The residents have formed an organization to fight the rezoning called Citizens for Positve Growth. You can look at their Web site here.
You can view Nicki’s remarkable slideshow/video here.
Take one of those nifty indelible markers, add a person who has no sense, and what do you get? Graffiti at the Mill Mountain Star. Joey and Audrey may love each other, for now, but neither has much appreciation for Roanoke’s most treasured landmark.
Dopes with markers #1
This is but one of many, many acts of vandalism that have been perpetrated on the rock wall beneath the star.
Alas, here is another one. From the date, we can surmise that #2 appeared Tuesday, March 17. To Julia, Chad, Lori, Andrea, Joey, Josh and Cliff: St. Patrick was not smiling on you that day.
Dopes with markers #2
Michael Clark, recreation superintendent for Roanoke Parks & Recreation, says it’s a battle the city is constantly fighting. But there’s really not much anybody can do.
“The best way to combat graffiti is to get it off as soon as you see it,” he says. The theory is, the vandals will soon realize it’s a losing battle to make the effort.
Dopes with markers #3
Dear Taylor Shaine, and Britty Cale, or Cole, or whatever: We’re glad you got to see the great view from the top of Mill Mountain. But we Mill Mountain regulars are displeased at the view you left for us in #3.
Dopes with markers #4
As you can see from #4, locals are not the source of all of the problem. Tarah White from Flushing, Mich., you should feel ashamed. If Flushing, Mich., pop. 8,100, had any landmarks, we good Roanokers would refrain.
Dopes with markers #5
Eric + Barbara: I hope do indeed love each other forever. But expressing it in public, as you did in #5 is inappropriate — as are a few other ways.
One of these days, we can hope, the Mill Mountain Star Cam will be a little bit snazzier, technology-wise. Perhaps the good folks in Parks & Recreation will be able to program it to spot defacers, and hook it up to a big fat siren that will assault the ears of anybody who starts scrawling on a rock.
Fortunately, I didn’t find any explicit obscenities among the graffiti at the star Wednesday. But then there was this, which you can see in #6:
Dopes with markers #6
The word expresses precisely what I think of those folks who use their pens on the wall at the star.