Politics of plastic

As more individuals, stores, cities, states, and countries begin to question the use of plastic, especially plastic for single-use and disposable items, manufacturers of oil, gas, and plastics are creating new pro-plastic PR, negating their responsibility, and trying to control citizens from banning plastic.

Plastics manufacturing is big business!

Traditional plastic is made from oil and natural gas. Oil and plastic production is big business these days and many companies and individuals have a tremendous vested interest in keeping oil and plastics around, even in the face of the resulting global impact.


Plastic production is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., employing 1.1 million workers and producing $379 billion worth of goods each year. (Society for the Plastics Industry)

We are at an environmental crisis point due to humanity’s dependence on oil and gas.

We use oil and gas to fuel everything from cars, home heating and cooling, cooking, agriculture, and industry. But, according to the Oil and Gas Journal, we are running out of oil and only have about 43 years of reserves left. Other studies site either more or less of these oil reserves, but it is unquestionable that these natural resources are running out.

As these reserves become less and less available, there is an increase in political competition for this critically important resource throughout the world. This competition has resulted in conflict and has been implicated as the cause of many wars.

The ongoing quest for ownership over oil fields in the Middle East, where a vast amount of the world’s oil is located, is a tragic example of what can result from the dependence we have on these resources. The result of war-torn countries is poverty and the loss of important living standards.

The Plastic, Oil and Chemical Industries' "Green Solution." 

Oil, chemical, and plastic industries are financially and politically interrelated. Some of these companies have joined together to try to come up with solutions that support the continued use of single-use plastic bags. These solutions would seemingly address the environmental impact of these products. One such organization is called the American Progressive Bag Affiliates (APBA).

This organization was originally under the umbrella of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and was renamed and moved to The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI). Their stated goal is to defend plastic bags and promote the recycling of all plastic film—a category that includes plastic bags, product wraps, and commercial packaging, such as shrink wrap.

SPI has an extensive national grassroots network and focuses on public policy and the legislative protection of the plastics industry. When a bag ban or tax becomes a possibility anywhere in the United States it is common for APBA, or its representatives, to use measures such as calling people that live in the given area, advertising locally, and hiring lobbying firms in order to sway legislators and the public against the plastic bag ban or the plastic bag tax.

The SPI website enables anyone interested in   supporting their causes to take immediate action. It also offers reasoning for why plastic bag bans and plastic bag taxes don't work, along with links to plastic recycling websites sponsored by the American Chemistry Council and others.

The strategy taken by the American Progressive Bag Affiliates and the Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) is to emphasize recycling of plastic bags as the best (or only) true environmental solution. Unfortunately their influence can create confusion for the consumer, potentially manipulate the public into misunderstanding which choices are truly green and progressive, and have little or no real positive impact on the environment.

There is no doubt that recycling is a far better decision than using a plastic bag once and throwing it away, but recycling plastic bags doesn't stop the manufacturing of new ones.

The recycled plastic from plastic bags is not used to make new plastic bags, but rather is down-cycled and used for products such as decking material. This means that more and more plastic bags are still being created on a daily basis, even though plastic is a material that will never biodegrade!

Ideally these large and powerful companies will truly begin to reinvest their energies, employees, and finances in renewable and reusable efforts. Plastic industries must begin to adapt their current products so that they support our environmental demands and ideally, they must begin to reinvest these energies, employees, and finances in sustainable ways instead of depleting our precious resources.



Why Switch to Reusable?


  1. The Politics of Paper
  2. The Politics of Hemp
  3. Bag Bans

The effect of Global Warming is an environmental concern that has drawn a great deal of research and support.

Global warming is caused by the emissions that are created from burning and using oil and gas.  A global population of people using oil and gas and producing the associated greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is unsustainable for our ecosystem.  Also, the activity of prospecting and drilling oil and natural gas from deep within the earth, uses oil, pollutes, and tears apart land, ecosystems, and fragile habitats around the world.

As a result, there is a growing worldwide effort to replace our dependence on oil and gas with more sustainable renewable methods and resources.

Critics of single-use plastic bags are not only questioning the irresponsible use of a natural resource, and the resulting environmental impact, they are also questioning the entire system of consumerism plaguing our modern culture.

There appears to be a growing conflict between the materialistic approach much of the western world is lost in, and an awareness that we all have to change in order to protect the future of the planet and its inhabitants.

The Politics of Plastic:

Have you ever heard of a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation or SLAPP?

It's a lawsuit that is put in place, not necessarily to win, but definitely to censor, intimidate, and silence a critic.

  • It can silence them by creating a burden on them for the cost of a legal defense.
  • It can burden them by creating a negative public impression.
  • It can discourage other organizations or individuals from supporting them out of fear of being sued themselves.

The intended outcome of a SLAPP is for the critic to abandon their criticism or opposition.

This is important to the politics of plastic because being sued is a very real concern for anyone critical of plastics. This was true for many counties and cities in California as they began seriously considering a plastic bag ban or charging a fee for plastic bags.

This was also true for a popular reusable bag company located in California. They have all been legally challenged due to their opposition to plastic bags.

(See Rolling Stones "The Plastic Bag Wars" for an informative article.)


We are a woman-owned business whose vision is two-fold: to make a difference through what we do and how we do it. It is not easy to better our selves or our world, but we know the two go hand in hand. Our bags have taken us to the very brink of an ultimate question: what is true personal and planetary sustainability and what changes do we need to make to get from here to there? We hope to inspire such a journey of questioning for others as we’re all in the same boat together. (Learn more)


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