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Green Police

Did you see the Audi Super Bowl commercial that satirically promoted the “Green Police” arresting people for using incandescent bulbs, requesting plastic bags, and not composting or recycling their trash?

The alarming thing is that those laws, aimed at forcing a cultural behavior change, aren’t satire. They already have a foothold in our country.

Three years ago San Francisco became the first major US city to ban plastic grocery bags. Ironically, the plastic bag was actually introduced as an environmentally friendly alternative to the paper bag to protect America’s forests from destruction. Last year San Francisco toughened up their mandatory recycling laws to include composting. That scene in the commercial where they’re going to arrest the guy for putting an orange peel in the garbage disposal? While you might not be arrested in San Francisco, you could be fined if you are found to be deliberately flouting the law. The current mayor of San Francisco actually twittered, “Ok .. That "green police" Audi commercial hits home..

Closer to home, this past Monday, I received a letter from my hometown stating that we are no longer allowed to use traditional plastic trash bags for our grass clippings or leaves. Instead, we may only use specially designed biodegradable bags bearing a seal of approval from the city. These bags cost twice as much as the decent garbage bags we currently use. Non-compliance will earn you a fine of $50 to $2,000.

I believe there’s a line between educating people on the many personal ways we can help our environment and encouraging or motivating them to be enthusiastic about participating versus passing laws mandating their behavior and forcing them to change.

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