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Banning Plastic Bags

Helping the Environment Is in the Bag?

A report just released shows that the US set a record for recycling plastic bags in 2006. Up a whopping 24 percent, the record high validates a growing national recycling trend sweeping the states. Of the 812 million pounds of plastic recovered, tons will become usable goods like decking. It's thought that the growing trend of bag recycling bins at stores as well as outright banning is helping to dump the plastic problem.

Cities like San Francisco sparked a wave of disdain for the once ubiquitous sack, and today Nashville is not far behind. If not outright bans, some cities are considering taxing the totes. The Massachusetts Legislature is debating a measure that would enact a two-cent tax that could rise all the way to 15 cents per bag over the next seven years. They hope the new tax will shrink the 380 billion plastic bags Americans use every year — a lot of which end up as litter or in a landfill.

It's not just US cities banning the bags — China announced a nationwide outlawing at the beginning of the year, which is scheduled to kick in June 1, 2008. Early adopters have already caused the nation's biggest plastic bag factory to shutter.

Britain has added the bags to a list of possible items eligible for a "sin tax" and is contemplating an outright ban by 2009.

It might just be time to consider your answer to that perennial "paper or plastic" question carefully.

Do you take your own bags to the store? Are you behind the war on bags?


Join The Conversation
rpenner rpenner 9 years
we take our cloth bags to the store with us. and we either recycle or use as trash bags any plastic bags we get if we forget the cloth ones. i think completely getting rid of them would be a fantastic idea!
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
btw, instead of Envirosax, try the bags from Whole Foods! they're just $1 and very large. The bag from Target is smaller and wasn't more than $10. It's easier to fold up to put in a pocketbook. They're both very nice looking and they don't look cheap at all!
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
Good! I have 2 bags in different sizes, a smaller one from Target and the Grapes one from Whole Foods for groceries and shopping. Other plastic bags that I get from say, the pharmacy, I use as trash can liners. My mother always has done that since I was very little. Good to hear that the US is doing its part in cleaning up the globe. We can't just pin it all on China and India. This isn't a game that kids play-- oh they did it, I didn't! This is something that every country must recognize as a problem and do their share and beyond to make the entire world more green.
potc-crazyy potc-crazyy 9 years
I usually use this small light bag that can roll like a suitcase. I got it in Japan and it's very useful since I walk to the supermarket.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I have taken my own bags to the store for the last couple of years. Most stores will give you a 5 cent credit for bringing your own bag. I think people should be charged for the plastic bags they use. I just remembered that I need to pick up some of the shopping bags I use for my Dad and Step Mom.
sashak sashak 9 years
I take my own bags 9 times out of 10. Sometimes I forget & I feel really bad about it :( But we use the plastic bags to pick up the dog poop in the back yard or we recycle them. I take the re-usable ones to Target & Wal-Mart & I get the wierdest looks I think stores should charge customers for plastic bags!
laurelm laurelm 9 years
i bring my cloth bags with me everytime i remember I also prefer them for other reasons, they hold alot more, easier to carry and do not break Trader Joe's puts your name in a raffle for a gift certificate anytime you bring your own bags
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Syako, I have envirosax and I love them. The only thing is that I don't like them for groceries (because they don't stand up on their own) and they are kinda pricey. But they are super cute and since they fold up so small, you don't have much of an excuse for not using them. However, I agree it should be left up to the company, and I'm a big believer in positive reinforcement vs. negative. Discounts are good, penalties I don't think are the way to go. Maybe charing 2 cents extra is ok, but 15 cents is way too much.
nancita nancita 9 years
Yes, I take my own bags to the store. I found that once I started, it's sort of addictive...I feel too guilty not bringing them. Plus, the cloth bags are so much easier to carry, and I have some tiny ones that I can store in my purse.
syako syako 9 years
if you want reusable bags that you can keep with you at all times go to, their bags roll up and snap and come in a small pouch you can keep in your hand bag, glove compartment, etc.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Not to sound pessimistic, but when Midway Island is literally surrounded by plastic refuse and a piece of ice in Antarctica the size of Connecticut falls off, does a few thousand bags really matter?
syako syako 9 years
Other countries have been charging customers to use plastic bags for years now. We are so far behind and we are such a culture of excess. I bring my own reusable bags and get a discount at many stores for doing so (not that that's the reason I do it, but it does feel nice that the store actually recognizes the effort). I don't understand why Target or other grocery stores don't just start charging people a dime for each plastic bag. Even if it doesn't make people bring their own bag, at least they will be conscious of how many they use!!
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
I own one or two Whole Foods bags, yet I can never seem to remember to bring them to the market with me. As for my left over plastic bags, my dog seems to put them to good use. :)
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
I'm such a tree hugger, so I have reusable bags. I can't get my fiance on board though, so I always recycle our plastic bags or find other uses for them.
gooniette gooniette 9 years
we take canvas tote bags to the store as much as we remember to. farm fresh actually gave me a discount once for bringing my own bag. :) otherwise, we use all the leftover plastic ones for kitty litter and smaller trashcans.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I use my plastic bags for trash bags. sad but it beats always buying trash bags. I also take my own bag to the grocery store, only when I have a little to buy.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
i use my plastic bags as trash bags in my car and around our house
genvessel genvessel 9 years
they're also taxing plastic bags in the UK - 5 pence per bag - on just groceries for right now, I believe. anyway, i love the idea. when i came back from the UK a few weeks ago - it was a strange transition to not carrying around my canvas bag anymore. thankfully, our major chain around my house is encouraging canvas bag useage.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I know some companies (Ikea is the one that immediately comes to mind.) already charge for the use of non-reusable plastic bags. I think it's a great thing for companies to do, but believe that, ultimately, it should be left to the company. Also, just on a side note, I know a lot of people who use old plastic bags as trash bags in their cars or in small trash cans in their bedrooms and bathrooms. So, some plastic bags are used multiple times, even if they aren't technically recycled.
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