Never read the comments.
So, I woke up in a pique and grabbed my phone and went onto Twitter and Facebook, as one does in the 21st Century at 3AM in the morning. As the tides of fate would have it, I first saw this, tagged in a post by Sister Klute.
From the Huffington Post:
“A whale found in a canal in southern Thailand has died after eating more than 80 plastic bags, according to officials.
The small male pilot whale was barely alive when he was discovered on Monday in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said. Rescuers attempted to nurse the whale back to health, but he died on Friday after spitting up five plastic bags.
A necropsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.”
That’s just so sad and awful. Also, if it’s not a clarion call for you to stop using these goddamn things, I don’t know what is? What’s it going to take for you to switch to re-usable cloth bags? Do you have to have a loved one come up to you, begging for help with a string of bags in their mouth like a f**king circus clown?
Seriously, they are for sale almost everywhere you can get a plastic bag, and almost every large conservation charity sells them or gives them away as a perk when you donate. These are mine, from the Australian Marine Conservation Society. They’re sturdy (seriously, I overwhelm these things on a regular basis and have not have not had one rip on me yet). These are only $15 AUD (which is like nothing USD). They’re made of cloth so if it gets away, it’ll rot into organic sludge, rather than into micro-plastics which per Columbia University, take hundreds of years to fully decompose:
“Trash Travels estimates that plastic bags can take 20 years to decompose, plastic bottles up to 450 years, and fishing line, 600 years; but in fact, no one really knows how long plastics will remain in the ocean. With exposure to UV rays and the ocean environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller fragments. “
Disgraceful. Do the right thing, get some cloth bags, save some pilot whales.
The problem is, if you’re poor, let’s face it – $15 for three bags might be 3 net hours of work for someone making minimum wage, and it’s hard to make the case to spend money on something as intangible as a dead whale in Thailand. If you’re like me who can’t remember where they left their damn keys 5 minutes ago, you’ll forget them in the car or forget to put them BACK IN the car l (although I’m pretty assiduous on my cloth bags because “saving the planet” > “I need to get to work”). And if you’re a hypochondriac, you’ll worry that re-usable bags aren’t as sanitary as plastic bags (because of course checkout lines at the grocery store are so clean you can do brain surgery on them [INSERT EYE ROLL HERE]).
But some communities have started to take action and mitigate the use of plastic bags. Through the miracle of atomic mutation… sorry “representative government”, plastic bags have been banned in places like Surfside Beach, South Carolina. The nation of Kenya. And the entire state of California. Many, many more have followed suit – including communities here in Arizona – specifically the town of Bisbee.
Unlike California where it was voted on in an election of WE THE PEOPLE (I know conservatives get rock hard when they see that phrase, so enjoy!), Bisbee allowed representative government to do the work for them, which is the foundation of our CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC (also a phrase that provides both tumescence and rigidity to conservatives).
And then the Republicans in the Arizona legislature and executive decided to take a stand for local, but you know, not THAT local, government. From the March 18, 2015 edition of Tucson.com:
Because you know – helping the environment through local representation really gets in the way of Republican control of the State Capitol.
Taking us back to the beginning of my late-night pique, I read a tweet from Tim Steller, a columnist for the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) featuring the tragically dead pilot whale.
To which TJ Shope replied:
“WHO’S TJ SHOPE, KLUTE?” Well, besides someone who may currently be in the refractory period after reading the words “WE THE PEOPLE” and “CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC”, TJ’s the Rootinest, Tootinest legislator this side of the Pecos! YEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAW.
Seriously though, TJ Shope is a legislator from Arizona’s 8th Legislative District, representing the town of Coolidge and its’ environs. He also does really good cowboy cosplay, as you can see from the photo to the left. OH AND HE ALSO VOTED FOR THE BAG BAN. “Among those voting for the bill was Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, whose family has been in the grocery business (HMM! -ed.) for more than 60 years.” Now Rep. Shope tried to couch it in terms that he voted for the bag ban because the bill also include, per the Tucson.com article, a “prohibition against cities and counties from requiring businesses and building owners from having to report their energy consumption” (because God forbid we try to find ways of stopping ENERGY WASTE as well), but the overriding philosophy is inadvertently stated by bill sponsor Warren Petersen R(duh)-Mesa:
“We’re protecting the individual business from being forced to do something.”
That’s basically it. No one wants to be forced to do something. You and I, and everyone else who is trying to do something, we’re just drops in the bucket. We’re trying, giving a damn. There are more drops every day, but to really do something that helps the environment, we need our elected officials to do something, because here an ounce of prevention is worth like 50 lbs of the cure. We need them to give a damn, and smug, shit-eating tweets about how “Well, it’s not like we made it super hard to do something because we didn’t put it in the Constitution” aren’t helpful. They’re basically an admission of guilt from people like TJ Shope who know they did something wrong, but man, those dead pilot whales really own the libs.
We can either stop pollution at the source, on the cheap, or we can kick the can down the road (don’t kick the can down the road, by the way, recycle it) and pay more both in our own health and the health of the planet we’re called to be stewards. Fix the problem, now, dipshits. That’s what we pay you for, it’s what keeps you in nice clean cowboy hats.
And own your shit, TJ. YOU did this. You could have voted no on the law, and worked to separate the two issues into two separate bills that would have addressed local control and your weird, paranoid Big Brother worries about whether or not someone is wasting kilowatts. Don’t blame the voters – we already know what they wanted in Bisbee and Tempe. You’re the one who stood against us.
Maybe that hat of yours should be black.