I was recently asked to complete a questionnaire submitted by Eureka Recycling to city council candidates. Questions and my responses are below.
I would have voted against the measure and will continue to vote against it. First, these measures shift the economic burden onto consumers to purchase more expensive resuable bags that will still end up in the waste stream. With plastic bag bans, the government is mandating certain types of purchases by consumers, which is unfair. Consumer behavior should be changed through education and voluntary cooperation, not through government intervention. I carry reusable bags myself since I know that waste reduction is an important individual responsibility – but it should be up to individuals to make that decision. As a Libertarian, I believe that government should never coerce individual behavior.
If a zero waste program can be developed that is economically practical and reduces overall city expenditures, I will gladly support it as an internal city policy. For individual citizens, however, a zero waste program would have far-reaching economic and behavior-modifying implications, and I cannot support government intrusion at this level. As a citizen, I am happy to do what I can to reduce waste. I have taken steps in my own household to do so, but I do so voluntarily. I will never support a policy that forces citizens to behave a certain way, or make involuntary expenditures (including new taxes to support such programs).
The community, independently and without government coercion, should be the only source of a zero-waste plan. Personally, I would be happy to support non-profit organizations that work to educate citizens on ways to reduce waste. I will put my money where my mouth is on this notion – non-profits that work in this area are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with details about their programs, and I will donate as a private citizen to the one I find most successful in this area. (I will publish my donation receipt on my website so that other organizations can verify it.) Voluntary behavior is the way that communities solve problems – not compulsory compliance. I cannot support government policies that force behaviors.