Mindless virtue signaling doesn’t fare well in a real crisis.
As the nation and the world confronts a deadly pandemic, and citizens, businesses, and governments do all they can to tamp down the spread of the coronavirus, some useless measures instituted in less turbulent times will go by the wayside.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an order Saturday telling all grocery and retail stores to move away from reusable bags and transition to disposable plastic and paper bags.
New Hampshire is not alone.
These actions reveal the fact that not only are the bans marginal or even detrimental in their environmental impact—more on that later—but they are also a public health hazard.
In one study that Tierney highlighted, published in the in 2018, researchers planted a surrogate virus on the bags of three shoppers who went into grocery stores. After they bought their groceries and checked out, researchers found the virus “on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks, as well as on many surfaces touched by the shoppers, including packaged food, unpackaged produce, shopping carts, checkout counters, and the touch screens used to pay for groceries.”
This is a scary prospect as countless Americans have their only contact with the general public when they go to grocery stores, making the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 much more difficult.
Of course, some climate activists aren’t going to be dissuaded, even at this time.
By this she means climate change and plastic buildup.
“Promoting the use of reusables is certainly one of the greatest practices we can have to address those issues,” Souza said.
The problem with this mentality, beside perhaps misplaced priorities, is that the plastic bag bans are ineffectual even if the primary concern is the environment.
A in Australia by University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor demonstrated that bans on plastic shopping bags do not significantly cut down on waste; more people buy thick garbage bags to line their trash cans after the bans are put in place.
The bottom line is, the current crisis has revealed the misguided nature of plastic bag bans, and now cities and states must move quickly to prevent these bans from exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic.
In the coming days, Americans will have to take many actions and adjust their lives to stop the spread of COVID-19. Serious times and serious matters will force us to abandon virtue signaling and restore common sense.
Suspending bans on plastic bags is a good sign that’s happening already.
Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the new book, "The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past."