A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

How this dumb law works: Check it out

Written January 21st, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Lots of paper with this meal, but only the bag at the top costs a nickel.

Just how stupid is Oregon’s new law on checkout bags? You get the idea when you want to take home a little meal from a sandwich shop, the North Albany Subway in this case.

There are lots of wrappings involved. Lots of paper, as any loyal Subway customer knows.

They wrap the sandwich in a sheet of sandwich paper. No separate charge for that bit of paper, of course. Then they wrap the wrapped sandwich in another sheet of paper. No extra charge for that either.

If you want some cookies, the little bag they put them in is free, at least in the sense that there is no extra charge.

They throw in a handful of paper napkins. Free. Thank you very much.

But unless you want to stuff the sandwiches, cookies and napkins in your pockets, one more wrapping is required.

A little bag. And to put all those items in a little paper bag, Democrats in the Oregon legislature insisted that the sandwich maker demand five cents.

At Subway, they used to stuff your sandwiches in a handy plastic bag so you could put them in the car without worrying about the sauces or the oil leaking into the floor mats. That’s forbidden now, and it’s at least possible to see a theoretical reason for that. Preventing plastic pollution and all that. Saving the turtles in the oceans of the world.

Bu why outlaw free paper sacks like this? At places where they sell food to go?

Are they worried  about paper pollution? Hardly. Are these little bags supposed to be “reusable checkout bags” of the type for which the majority in Salem demands we pay 5 cents each? No, the advice printed on these bags — in English and French, no less — is not to reuse them but to recycle them or put them in the compost pile.

The only possible reason for expanding the law to outlaw the routine courtesy of putting your ready-to-eat food purchases in a bag for you, a century-old standard practice wherever they sell food to go, is to embarrass the employees and irritate their customers.

Mission accomplished, I would say.

You’d think an irksome little law like this would be ignored. But no. Not in Oregon, the land where no law is too irrational to be obeyed. After all, we still don’t pump our own gas, not because we can’t but because there’s a law. (hh)

Posted in: Commentary

42 responses to “How this dumb law works: Check it out”

  1. Melinda Butler says:

    Let me add to that. If you order a drink at a restaurant you will not get a straw. You must ask for it. Taking more time for all 50 guests to get served. Then if you order a to go order. You will not receive anything to eat with unless you ask for it. They can not just put them in with your order. So if your in a hotel and forget, have fun with that gravy. Yes our governor is a dumba$$.

  2. Bob Zybach says:

    This is idiotic and the Democrats have to accept blame for this nonsense. These kinds of expensive regulations would have been considered satire just a few years ago. We have homeless people by the thousands and increasing in number, our State forests are in sad disrepair, and rural infrastructures continue to crumble. And yet this is the type of stupid crap that comes out of Salem. More idiotic regulations that create inconvenience and irritation and for no fathomable reason. A straw got stuck in a turtle’s nose or somebody put it there. People litter (we do have litter laws). What else? No excuse for this incompetence. And that includes all of the people who voted for the nitwits that are creating this stuff. Throw the bastards out — they’ve been at the trough too long and lost all common sense in the process. That’s my opinion anyway.

  3. Ted says:

    Well said Mr. Herring, well said. We get the government we deserve. And with laws like these on the books, apparently what we deserve sucks.

  4. Ted says:

    Well said Mr. Hering, well said. We get the government we deserve. And with laws like this on the books, apparently what we deserve sucks.

  5. LORI P. says:

    I have been to Subway several times since this new law took effect. Not once have I been charged for a bag. The 5 cents a bag at the grocery store goes back to the store to cover some of the cost of the bag. So many are so entitled and resistant to change. You should get your bags for free and you shouldn’t be expected to be inconvenienced in any way. This is your planet right? You should be able to pollute it as much as you want. You’re so wrapped up in yourself and what is and isn’t convenient to you that you can’t see that little changes add up and can make a positive difference. The sooner you stop complaining about it and get with the program the sooner we could take a look at other ways to help undo some of the harm we have done to this planet. Maybe you are too selfish to care maybe you are too ignorant to problem solve. A crate in the trunk or a reusable bag would take care or any risk to your precious floor mats. If you cared half as much about this planet as you do your floor mats maybe you wouldn’t need to be forced to do the right thing!

    • S. Bee says:

      Thank you for speaking up, Lori. I’m getting tired of people complaining about the bag situation. I also believe it’s a reaction to people’s sense of entitlement and inconvenience. I may not agree with a lot of the laws being pushed through in Oregon, but this one was clearly necessary because no one will make better decisions unless they’re forced to.
      I work at a store, so I hear it every single day (the complaining). One guy asked me if the store has to buy the bags. Um, do you think people work jobs to make the bags and don’t get paid for their work? Do you think bags grow on trees behind the store? Of course the store buys the bags! And with a plastic bag ban, the cost would skyrocket if they continued to be free.

    • Michael says:

      You completely missed the point.

    • Samantha M. says:

      You said it Lori!

  6. Delfina Hoxie says:

    I don’t see the problem. I have my own bags that I carry in the store and I have stainless steel straws. Why is this so difficult? Not.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Signalling can be a useful concept. But virtue signalling like this comment is disingenuous.

      Good for you, Delfina. Keep genuflecting to government and slurping from their trough with your stainless steel straw.

      Some of us just want government to leave us alone to make our own product choices.

  7. Rick says:

    One subway tried to charge me. Had posted page 1 of a FAQ pamphlet. Page 2 said basically that fast food restuarants are not prevented from using paper bags. Called Subway and the next day the sign and charge were gone.

  8. Cap says:

    Hasso: You sound like a whiny first grader, but most of them understand more about the peril this planet is facing than you do. I knew when I saw your title on your blog what it would say. There isn’t a law made that you ever approved of. You are the King of libertarians, which are Republicans in Birkenstocks, the stock joke for them. With you, you are a Republican in disguise by riding a bike and writing occasional stories about nature.

    Lori P. is right in her answer to your blog. I like your blog most of the time, so have to grit my teeth and put up with your Libertarian rants.

  9. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The only possible reason is to embarrass the employees and irritate customers?

    Perhaps. But one has to ask, what decisions can’t the government make for you?

    Perhaps another reason is the government’s desire to force you to submit to its authority, with a promise of more to come.

    You can’t even go to the bathroom in your own house without being subservient to government. Their objective isn’t to irritate you. They don’t care about your feelings.

    Their objective is to control you.

    Oregon is on a slippery slope. Mission accomplished with the bag ban.

  10. J. Jacobson says:

    Sounds mostly like the empty wailing of spoiled White males with too little to do.

    • Lewis says:

      Why do you liberals always have to inject race into every discussion? Thanks Obama

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      I am a white male.
      My family never owned a car.
      we didn’t get a telephone until I was nearly 19 years old. I moved out of town to seek my fortune 7 months later. Not much time on the family “electronic device”.
      I am sick and tired as being portrayed as the “WHITE MALE” as if I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and life of ease.
      Your condescending BS is getting tiresome.
      Enough of your bigotry!

      • Rich Kellum says:

        Why do you not ask Nico/John Hartman/Jj/bf msj what color he is??

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          Why? Libs are exempt from themselves.

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          To expand further-
          I presume he is Caucasian.
          He is obviously sexist (Male), racist (White) and uses stereotypes.
          Things he feels exempt from because “he cares”.
          Things anybody else would be raked over the coals for.

          HE ENGAGES IN CLASS WARFARE, another Lib tactic. Instead of inspiring the poor etc. to do better like our parents tried to inspire us, it’s just blame “the white guy” and stay in your miserable place.

  11. Katherine Domingo says:

    How can we solve big problems as mentioned by some of your readers then we can even make small changes.?

  12. TeresaDelaney says:

    So the cups are paper, the straws are now this weird cardboard thing that gets soggy in the drink, but what about the plastic lid? It’s ok to be a plastic lid? I don’t understand the logic. And you can still get a plastic straw if you ask for it, I know I’m not the only mom that won’t let her kids take the lid off their drink!

  13. Lindell Johnson says:

    Well put and to the point.

    Is it possible you could do some detective work and find out what caused that big boom?
    There seems to be nothing in the paper or news that tells us what or where that was.
    Thanks for checking.

    • NancyM says:

      to l johnson: maybe the big boom was the giant underground furnace firing
      up… recently installed to help the rare metals industry in Albany?

  14. Thomas Aaron says:

    Really? This is worth complaining and ranting about? Wow, a minor change and the very slightest of inconvience in your life to curb a certain kind of waste that sticks around far longer than paper. #FirstWorldProblem

    Hey, why not talk about the giant explosion on Monday none of the local news seems to be addressing? Better yet why not talk about the kicker rebate we’re all getting and how the state had to give back over a billion in tax revenue, which would solve a lot of issues in that crumbling infastructure everyone seems to complain about.

    But hey, stupid paper bags and nickles are a real threat to ruining society as we know it.

  15. Martha Flora says:

    There’s plastic waste everywhere, and it never goes away. I don’t want it in my water, the food I eat, or clogging up harbors and land fills. Paper is renewable and Oregon is a good place to grow trees for pulp, so paper is a natural for us

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Have you quit driving? There’s a lot of plastic in your car + all the environmental “terror” for using fossil fuels.

      • Pat Riot says:

        Have you quit using your brain? True, cars today are mostly made of various kinds of engineered plastic. However, the majority of plastic trash that’s literally everywhere in environment, in the ocean and in the seafood we eat, that’s not only an eyesore but also sickening and killing countless amounts of wildlife worldwide is not from automobiles. It’s single use plastic products and packaging (meaning it’s used only once then discarded to become trash or litter or poison) like plastic bags, straws, etc… See the difference?

  16. Mike Patrick says:

    Some on here must suck their Kool-Aid through the straw they now have to ask for. Priceless!

  17. Mark says:

    #1, there is a law that allows you to pump your own gas now, about 1 year ago. Diesel vehicles have always been pumped by the driver unless the driver doesn’t want to.

    #2 okay ban the plastic bags in grocery stores, etc. But why also ban the plastic bags we all put our veggies in and the plastic bags we put our meats in so there is cross contamination.
    Maybe we would have to pay 5 cents for those pP

  18. Ean says:

    We need moderate Republicans willing to back a carbon tax and dividend approach. Otherwise it will continue to be more of the same. People with views like Mr. Shadles above may bring something to the debate but they aren’t ideas that will win in Oregon anytime soon.

  19. Jim Engel says:

    Ya H.H., just what caused that “boom” on Monday afternoon? Here on Powell St we were on our patio & really, really felt it! With no sirens sounding afterward it must not have been anything near by. Much, much louder than any sonic boom that I’ve heard. Possibly an earth sound as a prelude to an earth quake??!!

  20. Mike says:

    Hell went to eat at a panda and you need to ask for stuff to eat with.yeah I want a fork so I can eat instead of getting my hands all nasty

  21. centrist says:

    Such angst and blamestorming by change-resistant folks who also resist government without their personal approval. There’s a big world outside the Albany cocoon. Suggest you explore it.

  22. Harvey says:

    Glad to see your willing to pick up all the trash, Hasso. You can start with my yard and street where the slobs that eat that crap throw all the
    “Free” paper. It’s not free. It’s figured into the cost of the “food”.
    Flunk economics, did you?

  23. Anon says:

    My only objection is that the state is interfering in the relationship between the retailer and the customer. The most interesting question is, where in the legislative history did the mandatory requirement to charge the customer come from? Perhaps our own Senator Gelser could help us with that one. The only thing retailers have to offer today is customer service with Amazon and the likes lurking out there. It would appear this new law just pisses consumers off for no good reason.

  24. Bill Kapaun says:

    Guess what we used before the advent of plastic bags to haul our groceries?
    Guess how much they charged?
    The state is interfering with commerce by forcing the store to charge when they didn’t before.
    Our City acting as a real estate agent. At least twice now. How many more times?
    You don’t think there is growing government control where there needs to be NONE?
    Keep your heads in the sand.

  25. Bill says:

    In best Capt. Kirk voice….”Help Spock, must get more gov’t control…”
    Why? (Glad you asked) Well because we just don’t have enough!
    Liberals thrill to the idea of a nanny state where speech is not free but a basic minimum income is….Fall in line now children! Nanny Brown knows best. She’s virtuous! YAY!

  26. NancyM says:

    went to Dollar Store…purchased four greeting cards. raining very hard outside
    and was given an enormous paper bag for 5 cents to place four small cards.
    Safeway gives recyclable (?) plastic bags for l0 cents but emit such a bad
    odor you wonder from whence it came and its composition. Is it possible to
    recall this ridiculous plastic bag law? Or waterproof the paper.


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