I’m all for cutting back on plastic bags, but I overheard a man in a café the other week talking about how used to them we have become, and how hard it can be to find a substitute. His mother lives in an apartment block for seniors in, I think, Oklahoma, in a town where they have banned plastic bags. All her food scraps go into an unlined kitchen bin. Unlined because paper bags are also discouraged as apparently ‘bag for bag, they cost more to landfill than plastic bags because they take up much more space by weight and volume’. Mom empties her little bin into a mini dumpster. When the sanitation department empties the bin, the truck simply upends it into the garbage truck and sets it back down. Garbage that is wet or sticky stays stuck to the inside of the dumpster, which has led to a rat and odour problem. The sanitation department says the residents are responsible for the cleaning of the bins. But the residents are elderly and often frail. The lady in question, says her son, is so little she can’t actually lift the lid of the dumpster. And anyway, if she did clear out the remaining scraps from within, where would she put them? The dumpster is her only option. Clearly, there’s a lot more thinking to be done as we move to be plastic bag free. P.S. Don’t even mention so-called biodegradable bags. I’ve already had an earful from a waste disposal company about them. Who knew?