Washington, D.C. shoppers face nation's first fee for using plastic bags

The USA Today:

Washington, D.C. shoppers face nation's first fee for using plastic bags

A first-of-its-kind law is hitting Washington, D.C., shoppers, who must pay 5 cents for every plastic or paper disposable bag they use when buying food or alcohol.Washington passed the first-of-its-kind law in the USA to charge shoppers for disposable plastic and paper bags as a way to cut back on trash and clean up the Anacostia River.

Most of the money raised from the new law, which passed the D.C. Council unanimously in June and took effect New Year's Day, will go toward cleaning up the city's Anacostia River. City research has found plastic bags are a major source of the river's trash.

"We want everyone to know that you can save the river, and 5 cents, if you bring your own reusable bag to the store instead," said Mayor Adrian Fenty in announcing the "Skip the Bag, Save the River" initiative. The city and stores are kicking it off by handing out free reusable bags.

Bag-fee proposals have been popping up elsewhere in the USA, but Washington D.C. says it's the first to pass one. They've been introduced in state Legislatures in California, Maryland and Virginia.

Ridiculous. :nope:

It might be the nation's first fee, but it is not the world's first fee. I have traveled in Europe, and frequently met this fee. I don't know if it is mandated by law, or a decision of individual stores. I also noticed a lack of plastic bag litter in the cities I was in. There is no point in saying that an action is ridiculous, if you do not acknowledge that it is a serious attempt to deal with a real problem. The problem of hugely excessive litter of non-biodegradable plastic in our cities is terrible.

We've had a plastic bag levy in Ireland since 2002. Works fine. We had a terrible plastic bag litter problem. Now seeing plastic bag litter is so rare as to be remarkable.

By 'bagging it,' Ireland rids itself of a plastic nuisance

Some stores in my area have instituted this on their own. Ten cents for a large, reusable bag....it seems to work.

John

We have a few stores that charge for bags. To be honest, I like the cloth reusable bags, I find I can fit way more groceries in them and they're way easier to carry... no more broken bags with groceries falling out.

[quote="praise_Jesus, post:6, topic:182632"]
We have a few stores that charge for bags. To be honest, I like the cloth reusable bags, I find I can fit way more groceries in them and they're way easier to carry... no more broken bags with groceries falling out.

[/quote]

Such a fee would be perfect for the likes of me: (1) well-intentioned, but (2) lazy and (3) cheap.

If I had to pay for my plastic bags at Giant Eagle, maybe I'd finally start practicing what I preach a little more.

Are you listening, Pennsylvania General Assembly?

My only problem is remembering to put the bags back in may car for the next trip to the store. :smiley:

I'd rather use paper than plastic. But the grocery stores push the plastic bags because they are cheaper.

Exactly, it wasn’t so long ago that you had paper, which is a lot more eco-friendly than the plastic bags. Plastic bags won out because they where cheaper to make.

BTW, we had a Wal-Mart clerk a while back, tell us that Wal-Mart started making their plastic bags smaller. They fit less stuff than they use too. Wouldn’t surprise me if other stores have done that as well.

We use cloth bags for a lot of our stuff. The only problem I have is that most clerks don’t have a clue on how to pack the bags.

[quote="Sabda, post:10, topic:182632"]

We use cloth bags for a lot of our stuff. The only problem I have is that most clerks don't have a clue on how to pack the bags.

[/quote]

there seems to be one universal rule for all stores, cram every can and heavy item into one bag, and the three lighter weigh items in the other. along with that goes rule #2, bread and eggs always go on the bottom

You know liberty is in trouble when the government begins regulating very specific things like shopping bags. Of course, all the people supporting these measures are the real problem.

[quote="Nec5, post:12, topic:182632"]
You know liberty is in trouble when the government begins regulating very specific things like shopping bags. Of course, all the people supporting these measures are the real problem.

[/quote]

The "sin tax" has been around in this country since it started.

Interesting. Gettysburg College has worked out a deal with the Giant Supermarket chain where anybody using the reusable bags that the college sells gets a discount (I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, since I don’t do much grocery shopping at school, but its a pretty nice bargain). Not only that, the reusable bag is surprisingly roomy and strong; its good for carrying books, too.

The second sentence is true, but the first is not so clear-cut. The large amounts of lumber, water, bleaching, etc required for paper bags is not matched by the resources required for a plastic bag. That makes the plastic bags not just cheaper, but also less resource-intensive to produce. Then you can factor in the biodegradability of paper for the overall “eco-friendliness.”

[quote=Sabda]BTW, we had a Wal-Mart clerk a while back, tell us that Wal-Mart started making their plastic bags smaller. They fit less stuff than they use too. Wouldn’t surprise me if other stores have done that as well.
[/quote]

I haven’t heard this, and I couldn’t find it on a quick search. This doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t so, it may just mean nobody cared.

I would be interested in the reasoning behind the move. My guess is that although it takes slightly more time to pack because of the greater number of bags, there is more customer satisfaction because there are less likely to be things getting crushed at the bottom. Or they may have just found that a smaller size was more efficient for the triangular bag carousels they’ve been using the past few years. The older stationary bag holders may have worked best with larger bags, since the full bag had to be hoisted up and out of the way before more goods could be packed.

[quote="Digitonomy, post:15, topic:182632"]
The second sentence is true, but the first is not so clear-cut. The large amounts of lumber, water, bleaching, etc required for paper bags is not matched by the resources required for a plastic bag. That makes the plastic bags not just cheaper, but also less resource-intensive to produce. Then you can factor in the biodegradability of paper for the overall "eco-friendliness.

[/quote]

Paper can be recycled and when left in the environment is biodegradable, unlike plastic. Paper is also good for the soil. It's highly prized among gardeners for laying down on your flower/veggie bed underneath the mulch. Yes plastic can be recycled but it doesn't break down near as easy as paper does. Another thing, it takes fossil fuels to make plastic. We are still trying to get away from that aren't we? :ehh: To my mind, going to plastic was a step backwards, not forwards. As you can tell I'm not a fan of the plastic. :D I think we use way too much of it in our society.

"I haven't heard this, and I couldn't find it on a quick search. This doesn't necessarily mean it isn't so, it may just mean nobody cared.

I would be interested in the reasoning behind the move. My guess is that although it takes slightly more time to pack because of the greater number of bags, there is more customer satisfaction because there are less likely to be things getting crushed at the bottom. Or they may have just found that a smaller size was more efficient for the triangular bag carousels they've been using the past few years. The older stationary bag holders may have worked best with larger bags, since the full bag had to be hoisted up and out of the way before more goods could be packed.

Like I said a clerk told us this.

[quote="puzzleannie, post:11, topic:182632"]
there seems to be one universal rule for all stores, cram every can and heavy item into one bag, and the three lighter weigh items in the other. along with that goes rule #2, bread and eggs always go on the bottom

[/quote]

When I was in college I worked as a grocery store clerk, the type with bag boys. The manager made it a point to teach all new clerks/bag boys the basics of packing a grocery bag. I honestly think that experience is the reason I go so nuts when some of these clerks pack our bags. I have been known to go out of sight of the clerk, after paying for groceries, repacking my bags the way I like it. :p

A friend of mine who had once been a bag boy, started filling his own bags at the grocery, flipping items from one hand to the other, stacking them neatly into the bag. All were amazed. It’s not a particularly valued skill anymore. Now, when I pick up my collection of plastic bags filled with grocery items and put them in the trunk of the car, it’s like having no bags at all. Nearly the same result as tossing everything in loose.

We don’t have any stores that charge for plastic/paper bags, but we do have stores that give you money off (5 or 10 cents per bag…don’t remember) for using cloth bags. We like the cloth bags better, as well.

[quote=oldcelt]My only problem is remembering to put the bags back in may car for the next trip to the store.
[/quote]

Yep…or take the wrong car. :smiley:

However, that is okay. We use the plastic bags we do get to pick up our dogs “packages” when walking them. :o That is a whole other “waste” issue! We are probably going to start vermicomposting - one unit for food scraps and one for pet waste.

Supermarkets here in Nagoya, Japan began charging fees for plastic bags last year and so far the program has been very popular. Most people bring their own bags now and there does seem to be much less waste and litter in the streets. Of course, if you just happen to run into the store on your way home from work and don't have a bag, it can be frustrating to fork over the extra yen for something we used to think was a right to have. Still, in the long run, I think it is a sensible part of the solution to the problem of waste and most people seem to get used to it fairly quickly.

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