Fairfax Bans Paying With Plastic, Will Enforce Whimsical Barter System
By Rainbow Dash
FAIRFAX, CA — Due to the popularity of such bans as the single-use plastic bag ban and the Great Plastic Straw Ban of 2019, the Fairfax Town Council voted on Wednesday to ban Fairfax residents from paying for goods and services with plastic.
The ban includes credit cards, debit cards, and – are these still a thing? – Diner’s Club cards. Plastic gift cards will lose their value as of the end of this sentence.
But it doesn’t stop there. Marin County Board of Supervisors member Katie Rice, who represents Fairfax, says that not only are physical plastic cards now out of bounds, using a credit card number either online or over the phone will be subject to a fine (that cannot be paid with a credit card).
“The fact is,” Rice explains, “that a credit card number is still associated with the plastic card itself. The ultimate goal, in addition to having people not use plastic, is to have them not even think of the word ‘plastic.’ They should definitely avoid saying the word ‘plastic.’ In fact, going forward in your article, I would really appreciate it if you could refer to ‘It-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named’ in the way that we discussed.”
The problem, of course, is that paying with pl@&t!c has become so ubiquitous that many people, Millennials in particular, never carry cash. Sherry Davis, intern for the environmental rights group, The Last Straw, predicts that cash will be phased out entirely, in Fairfax and beyond.
“You can’t access cash without inserting your pl@&t!c card into an ATM, right? And you can’t get cash back at the grocery store without using your pl@&t!c card. I suppose you can go into the bank itself and withdraw cash, but who does that? Do they even have tellers anymore? My grandma once told me about this thing called a checkbook, but I’ve never seen one in person.”
Thus, after very little research and quite a few vodka tonics, the Fairfax Town Council came up with a solution for paying without cards, cash, or check: the barter system.
Council member Brenda Bunch insists that in addition to having an appealing “retro vibe,” bartering is a way to build community. “When you barter,” she says, “you have to talk to people, interact with them, negotiate.
“Here’s how it works,” Bunch explains. “You wake up and head over to Bolinas Avenue. After twenty minutes of driving around looking for a spot you eventually park illegally in front of the Coffee Roastery and leave your blinkers on. You order your daily decaf Americano with oat milk. You notice the barista has been standing for three hours straight, and you say, ‘Hey, Carol! Thanks for the delicious coffee! I’ll give you a foot massage to pay for it!’ And Carol says, ‘I’d LOVE a foot massage!’
“Or, you bring your empty spaghetti sauce jar into Good Earth and fill it up with garbanzo beans from the bulk foods section. Gary rings you up, and you notice he needs a trim, so you offer him a haircut. That’s bartering!”
Critics of bartering point out that trades can be particularly difficult to negotiate for big-ticket items or expensive services. “That’s when you have to get creative,” counters Bunch. “You can arrange with your lawyer that you’ll come over and clean her house once every two weeks for the next twenty years or until you die, whichever comes first.
“And of course, if you win your case, you should keep in mind that any settlement you receive may well be paid out with a ukulele version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’”