Plastic bags have become a heated topic in local discussions on environmentalism, and one local man believes he has the solution — if he can just get people to listen.
For the past couple weeks, Logan resident Davy McClay has been displaying a sign across the street from the North Logan Walmart advocating his brainchild — a plan where local grocery customers share a pool of plastic bags.
“Hey! Online Shoppers!” the sign reads, “Use REUSABLE grocery bags NOW! Help save our planet NOW!! An amazingly SIMPLE plan! drdavymcclay.wixsite.com/Reusable-Bags-Rock.”
McClay, who fulfills orders for online shoppers at a local grocery store, says he often hears customers complaining about the bags, but he doesn’t believe change will come from his employer or from the government. It’s got to be grassroots.
“I just love this beautiful world so much. And I want to keep it beautiful,” McClay said. “So that’s why I wanted to see us do something to minimize our usage of plastic bags, because that’s an issue keeping the world from the way we want it to be.”
McClay, a retired teacher with a Ph.D. in multicultural education from Claremont Graduate University near Los Angeles, says his ideas are simple:
• Grocery stores could give a 1 percent discount to shoppers who use their reusable bags. “The grocery store wins because we’ll be using fewer plastic bags, so the grocery store wins,” McClay said. “The customer wins — they get a little bit of a discount.”
• If store managers buy into the idea, online shoppers could pool reusable bags. McClay envisions this happening not through modifications to the software that manages online shopping for a store, but by shoppers changing the fourth letter of their last names to “Z” to opt in. If the computer-printed label, which at McClay’s store only displays a customer’s first initial and the first four letters of their name, ends in “Z,” the store’s online shoppers will use the reusable bags.
McClay bagan promoting his grassroots solutions after the Logan Municipal Council discussed ways to reduce single-use plastic bags starting late last year.
Councilman Herm Olsen, frustrated with plastic bag litter and its environmental impact, hoped to ban the bags before 2018 was out, but the discussion evolved into a consideration of a plastic waste collection surcharge and eventually into a more comprehensive look at a waste-reduction plan with a variety of options for retailers throughout the county.
The issue has generated considerable discussion locally, with many commenters praising the idea of reducing plastic bags from environmental and litter standpoints and many others concerned about over-regulation.
A common refrain among the anti-regulation crowd is “not like California.”
“Don’t turn Cache Valley into a liberal hellhole like California,” wrote Eric Facer in the comments of a newspaper article about Logan considering a ban. “Whats next, straws?”
McClay is worried about the impact of litter, but he’s also strongly anti-regulation. Through his website, multiple letters to the editor, his sign and his other efforts, he’s pushing for some sort of reconciliation between those differing drives.
“I really feel like I want to see us using less plastic bags,” McClay said. “Not really excited about the City Council banning them or doing like a California thing, because I like seeing citizens take the initiative and say, ‘You know, we can do this. We don’t need the politicians to tell us what to do.’”
McClay stresses that he’s not in favor of getting rid of single-use plastic bags entirely.
“I’m not in favor of eradicating them,” McClay said. “I want to cut them down significantly.”
McClay believes in the simplicity and the strength of his ideas, but so far, he hasn’t seen the level of response he’d like.
“I get feedback occasionally. I want more, and that’s why I’m pressing more, to get the word out more,” McClay said. “Because I want to get a lot of feedback, but I’m not getting the amount of feedback I’d like to be having.”