Helping and not helping: Salvatore A. Giunta, L.A. supervisors

Mandi Gosling

Helping: Salvatore A. Giunta

Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta is an exemplary model of helping.  He is the first living soldier since the Vietnam War to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was awarded the medal for his extraordinary acts of heroism on the warfront.

In October of 2007, while walking along a mountain range in Afghanistan with fellow soldiers, Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta and his unit came under fire by Taliban forces.

Giunta dodged rocket-propelled grenades and bullets from AK-47s while running back to help a fallen soldier who was still fighting.  He then noticed another wounded soldier was missing, so he ran over a hill where, only minutes earlier, enemy fire had been coming from. He found Sgt. Josh Brennan being dragged away by two insurgents, ran after them, killed one the insurgents, and wounded the other, who then ran away.

Brennan had been shot six times and eventually died from the injuries, but Giunta’s actions ensured Brennan was not subjected to further harm by the Taliban and his family was able to give him a proper burial. Giunta’s quick response also drove the insurgents back, preventing more casualties.

When he was given the award, Giunta said he was grateful to be honored, but called the moment “bittersweet.” He said he would trade the honor in a second if it meant his friends, Brennan and Spc. Hugo Mendoza, who both died that day, could be alive today.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has passed a ban on plastic bags in the unincorporated areas of the county.  The L.A. Times called it “one of the nation’s most aggressive environmental measures,” and while it may be aggressive, it is not helping the environment.

Not helping: L.A. supervisors

Banning plastic bags only means people will use paper bags instead. The absence of plastic bags at the register doesn’t mean people will all of a sudden start remembering to bring their reusable bags.  If they didn’t remember before the plastic bag ban, why would they remember after?

Customers will just use paper bags instead (a 10-cent surcharge notwithstanding) and they are as damaging to the environment as plastic bags.  Paper bags create more greenhouse gas emissions because they are heavier than plastic. The Environmental Literacy Council reports it takes about seven trucks to carry the same number of paper bags as one truck can carry of plastic bags.  So you can thank the Board of Supervisors for adding to the traffic and the smog.

Since paper takes up more space than plastic, it is also taking up more space in the landfills.  In a 2004 report published by CalRecycle, the state’s recycling and waste reduction effort, researchers found that paper bags are taking up one percent of our landfill space whereas plastic is taking up 0.4 percent.

Plastic bags at least serve a multitude of purposes after they’ve carried your groceries, whereas paper bags do not.  We use plastic bags to pick up after our dogs, line our trashcans, carry our lunches, or any other number of everyday uses.  Paper bags do not have the same kind of reusability.