Plastic Pollution

You Know Those Adorable, Convenient Hotel Mini-Shampoos? California Banned Them

Of course they did.

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If you're a Californian, the days of travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles seen in hotels are nearing an end. Come January 1, 2023, they'll be illegal.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1162 on Wednesday, sunsetting the small toiletry containers that some say are a noxious waste of single-use plastics. Establishments with more than 50 rooms must comply by 2023, while those with less than 50 rooms have until January 1, 2024.

A fine of $500 dollars will be assessed for the first violation and will increase to $2,000 for subsequent infractions. The law stipulates that a local agency may conduct inspections to ensure compliance.

But while the push to regulate plastic out of mainstream usage may be well-intentioned, it is not supported by data.

The panic is rooted in the presence of various plastics in the ocean. Those of the single-use variety—from straws, to plastic bags, to bottles—have become a fitting scapegoat for the plight of marine life, a concern that penetrated popular discourse after a viral video showed a sea turtle having a straw removed from its nose.

Environmental advocates aren't wrong about the underlying issue: 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. But as Andrew Glover notes at Quillette, a large part of that figure comes from microplastics: shards of debris that are less than 5 millimeters long. The majority of those aren't derived from the much-despised plastic bottles and straws, but rather from synthetic tires and the laundering of synthetic clothing. (It's worth mentioning that a study by the World Health Organization concluded that there were no "overt health concerns" to drinking water containing microplastics.)

Glover also highlights the excess of fishing-related accessories in the ocean, which account for 46 percent of the ocean's total plastic contents.

Yet that obviously isn't the entire picture. A study found that 40 percent of plastics are made to be single-use, some of which are bound to be dumped in the water. What activists fail to mention is that approximately 60 percent of plastic trash in the ocean comes from just five countries—China, Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—which have notoriously inefficient waste management systems. America, meanwhile, contributes less than 1 percent.

Indeed, to actually make a dent in this problem—a problem which very much exists—requires global citizens to focus on waste management in the developing world and on the irresponsible disposal of fishing gear. A blanket ban on hotel toiletry containers is certain to have no effect whatsoever.

That may not have been the goal of the legislation, though. Roland Geyer, a professor of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a supporter of the bill, told ABC News that the legislation is "mostly symbolic, but symbols can be powerful."

It's true that large companies may take notice and follow suit on their own. Some already have: Marriott International expressed that they will phase out the travel-size toiletries by the end of 2020. But that must also come with the understanding that it will have a near-negligible impact.

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  1. It is strange how all of these people who hate capitalism, and mass consumption among the plebes keep finding urgent existential threats that simply demand that we get rid of capitalism and mass consumption among the plebes. It is an amazing, fortuitous coincidence. Amazing.

    1. I think they would claim that those existential threats are why they hate capitalism, but it is awfully convenient that they keep finding more.
      And obviously socialism has such a great environmental record.

      1. It would have had the right people been in charge.

        1. And they would have gotten away with it, if not for you meddling kids!

  2. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1162 on Wednesday, sunsetting the small toiletry containers that some say are a noxious waste of single-use plastics.

    You know what else is noxious? Shit and needle-strewn sidewalks.

    1. Along with medieval diseases.

    2. +1 dirty sanchez

  3. Was the problem the plastic or it being free?

    1. I wonder if they’re at least allowed to provide shampoo if asked. Hell, I would even buy one in the gift shop. Just don’t make me lug around my half liter CostCo shampoo bottle through the TSA line.

      I also hope they didn’t ban those mini soaps.

  4. the legislation is “mostly symbolic, but symbols can be powerful.”

    Take Paiste symbols, for example…

  5. The Cali Ban strikes again!

  6. Alternative headline: California Bans Being Relevant in Any Sane Discussion of the Role of Government

    1. I think we serve a vital function as a negative example, personally.

  7. “a concern that penetrated popular discourse after a viral video showed a sea turtle having a straw removed from its nose.”

    That’s why turtles shouldn’t do cocaine. Serves him right.

    So what are the hotels going to do? Supply the shampoos in ketchup-packet type things?

    1. I’ve seen those. They are a real pain to get open with wet fingers.

      https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B07FK7GX57/reasonfoundation-20/

    2. Just put a sign on the counter encouraging guests to take the bottles with them and reuse them. By my reading that would satisfy the law (unless there’s another law prohibiting that).

      Also, it looks like hotels can stock the check-in desk with all the mini bottles they want. It’s okay for them to give you the tiny bottles if you ask for them.

    3. BYOB

    4. I predict dispensers like you see in public restrooms.

      1. A lot of hotels already do that as part of their “going green” campaigns.

    5. Or have big dispensers in the bath. Which I actually find more convenient. But banning is stupid and some people worry about contamination. And I want my free mini-shampoos and whatnot for travel when I stay in a hotel. I’m paying for that shit.

      1. You know if they go with large dispensers, the terrorists will fill them with acid or something.

    6. A sexy maid will, uh, squirt the shampoo on your head as needed. (Not THAT head, pervert!)

  8. So Californians will not have the proper size toiletries to go through TSA screening. They making themselves into literal dirty hippies.

    1. Or we could do the silver lining thing – now CA residents can’t travel?

      1. Nope. It just means we Californians will be forced to travel to YOUR state. Bwa hah hah!

  9. Ever notice how ‘going green’ usually means the companies are saving the green money? I noticed that all the companies that made a great deal about how green they were did not embrace expensive things like installing electric car chargers, but mostly thing that saved them money like selling the ‘recycled’ paper employees had to separate out themselves.

    1. I like seeing the notes in the hotel room telling me that the hotel is willing to go the extra mile for me by allowing me to use the towels more than once.

      Gee, thanks guys. But I do that at home, at the hotel you can damn well bring some fresh ones each day. I’m paying e-freaking-nough.

  10. Great article, save that you get the salient fact wrong:

    “Environmental advocates aren’t wrong about the underlying issue: 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. But as Andrew Glover notes at Quillette, a large part of that figure comes from microplastics: shards of debris that are less than 5 millimeters long. The majority of those aren’t derived from the much-despised plastic bottles and straws, but rather from synthetic tires and the laundering of synthetic clothing. (It’s worth mentioning that a study by the World Health Organization concluded that there were no “overt health concerns” to drinking water containing microplastics.)”

    Microplastics are generally small sized shards of plastic (1-3 mm) that are the result of abrasion, wave action and decomposition from larger structures into smaller bits. Just like rocks break down into sand, plastic items are shredded into smaller pieces over time.

    The article closes with another interesting revelation:

    “That may not have been the goal of the legislation, though. Roland Geyer, a professor of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a supporter of the bill, told ABC News that the legislation is “mostly symbolic, but symbols can be powerful.”

    Symbolic. . .Humm, just like the vaunted “assault weapons” bill was “symbolic” but an important first step in dealing with a non existent problem.

    California should be ever after known as:

    CALIFORNIA, THE FECKLESS

  11. You Know Those Adorable, Convenient Hotel Mini-Shampoos? California Banned Them

    Sorry, I must be staying at different hotels. The mini-shampoos have never been adorable and not particularly convenient either as I just bring my own anyway.

    Yeah, I know – 9/11. Its called a bar of soap you metro! I bet you have two types of conditioner. And a loofa.

  12. Why doesn’t California just get on with it and ban itself outright?

  13. Between the new American left looking to ban both fossil fuels and cows [by indirect threat], it occurred to me these clowns couldn’t surivive one week in the old soviet union: even a good borscht is beyond their comprehension. We are watching a real time study on ‘how not to live’ from a cult clownshow masquerading as a political philosphy.

  14. The law is a bad and stupid thing, but the last things I’d call those mini-bottles of toiletries is “adorable” or “convenient”. A mounted dispenser would be much handier. It’s hard to imagine they’d be mounted in inconvenient places, and the waste would be much less when you consider how viscous these liquids are. Even bar soap and solid shampoo would have less costly waste; when you consider the bottle and the liquid stuck in it, the cost of the unused part of the cake of soap (i.e. most of it) would be less.

    Do dispensers clog or leak? Sure, but they don’t get in the way like a profusion of little bottles.

  15. “The panic is rooted in the presence of various plastics in the ocean.”

    Microplastics buried in landfills end up leaching into the soil and water. The argument that these microplastics pollute the oceans is straw man.

  16. I am in favor of a constitutional amendment that would prevent government from interfering in the market to ban plastic bags, straws, shampoo bottles, or anything else (including vaping and food) unless it explodes and kills people. It is none of their damn business.

  17. HEY! Let’s be fair. Let he who among you doubts that their motives were altruistic cast the first bar of soap. Scientists, I’ll wager, have found a link showing hotel shampoo leads to unprotected sex and LSD–the stuff Governor Reagan warned us against. If not than, then misanthropic global warming and hate speech!

  18. “But while the push to regulate plastic out of mainstream usage may be well-intentioned, it is not supported by data.”

    nonsense. There is PLENTY of data showing that the Unwashed like plastic for its convenience. And as any aspiring Ecofascist knows, anything that the Plebes like must be stamped out!

  19. How about those mini booze bottles?

    Are those still ok?

  20. Okay reason, fuck you, your dilute libertarianism, and most of all your unclosable pop-up ads. I’m done.

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