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Do You Like the Idea of a Paper and Plastic Grocery Bag Fee?

Seattle's city leaders were prepared to enact an ordinance that would charge 20 cents per paper or plastic grocery bag, but the plastics industry stepped in with a referendum to give voters the final say. The majority of voters turned down the referendum that would have charged for every bag received from supermarkets, drug stores, and convenience stores.

Supporters say the fee would encourage reusable bags, cut down on pollution and waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while opponents are mostly against the added expense. How would you vote if your city tried to enact a similar ordinance?

Image Source: Getty
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itsthatgaljay itsthatgaljay 7 years
I like the idea, but 20 cents seems a bit steep. over here in england, it tends to be 1p or 5p. Plastic yeah, but paper? That's recyclable, so i don't think there should be the same cost on that.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I will just add one thing...if more of us are going to be using canvas/reusable tote bags for groceries, I think grocery store checkers should have to learn how to properly bag items in them. I hate it when I give a clerk the bags and they put like, every canned good in one bag and make the bag weigh 40 lbs. Just because the bags CAN hold more than the plastic ones, it doesn't mean they should be loaded to full capacity.
dorkotron dorkotron 7 years
i think it's a great idea. it's one of the only ways to get people to think about what they are using ahead of time, remember to take their bags with them, and stop pointlessly using so many resources. i'm so tired of seeing people walk out of stores with barely more than an item per bag or a bag for a single item. (uhhh, you managed to carry that one item all the way to the register. why do you suddenly need a bag?!?) i wish such laws would go into effect all over the usa.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
Oh, and the bags you buy are replaced for free by the stores - if they get worn out, you get a new one free.
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
Here in France, you can't find free plastic bags anywhere. At the grocery, they sell sturdy plastic bags for 30 cents, slightly more solid reinforced plastic bags for 60 cents, and canvas bags for about 1 euro. I keep a few in my car and almost never have to buy them - I think it's a great policy. Even at my favorite cosmetics store they sell reusable bags that fold into themselves and you can stash in your purse. It's cut down a lot on plastic bags around here.
expresso14 expresso14 7 years
I try to remember to bring bags for the couple stores that give discounts or other goodies for bringing in my own bags (Trader Joe's). I have a bunch of old paper bags that I'll use until they fall apart, along with a couple canvas bags (free from various meetings). I do still get a couple plastic bags because I use them for trash can liners and for cat litter - plus a couple local stores still give me weird looks when I bring my own bags.
Liss1 Liss1 7 years
I always try to bring my canvas bags with me, at stop and shop they give me .05 credit for each bag i bring. I also reuse the plastic bags if i do get them, for bringing lunch to work, trash, bringing food to other peoples houses, stuff like that they come in handy. But i do have way too many of them in my closet right now.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
If it's a tax/law/government mandated fee/ordinance, the money wouldn't go to the stores.
Advah Advah 7 years
Well, since the government is paying for recycling, why shouldn't they decide to charge people who use crazy amount of plastic bags? Obviously most of us use plastic bags as bin liners, but that's a really small amount of bags taken from shops. I agree with it, and many shops are already doing that in the UK (TK Maxx, M&S, and Tesco only allows one bag per person at the self-checkout queue). It's annoying when you've forgotten your reusable bag, but that definitely taught me to always have one or two in my purse. And yeah it's hypocritical because the money goes to shops and not to environmental causes, but in a way if it can help increase people's environmental consciousness then why not... However I'm still waiting for the day the government will also charge shops for using unnecessary plastic wrapping. No, I don't need to have my cucumbers wrapped, that's just stupid.
Zivanod Zivanod 7 years
I'm not a fan. In Toronto and now all of Ontario it is now the law to charge 5cents per plastic bag. I have two big complaints. 1. The money is going to the store and not to environmental efforts. 2. Apparently this now means that not only do you have to pay for the bags, you have to always pack groceries yourself! I really appreciate stores that have switched over to paper instead of asking someone who just spent $100 on clothing for another 5cents for a bag.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I like to put liners in my recycle bin, as well. I find that I sometimes have a little bit of soda left in cans (and I don't even realize it), so if I just throw the cans into an empty bin, the bin gets sticky over time.
weffie weffie 7 years
And honestly, as far as the trash can liners go, if you have a composter (or your city has a compost program) and you recycle everything that you can, there's no excuse for having more than one tiny bag of actual garbage in a week's time. All that's left are plastic wrappers and things that don't take up much space.
weffie weffie 7 years
Toronto as well... I think it should be $1 per bag. So many people carry one little thing in a bag, it's ridiculous and 5 cents doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent. I use them for kitty litter if we happen to bring them home, but usually I use biodegradable bags for that & dog walks and reusable ones for shopping. I wish people were more aware of just how far those bags travel... the oceans are full of them and they choke out wildlife like crazy, it's devastating.
syako syako 7 years
I like the idea of stores choosing to do it. I don't like the idea of the government having a law that forces stores to do it. I came here to say the same thing, but lilk beat me! If a store wants to charge for bags, that's their prerogative. The govt. has no place in this.
lizs lizs 7 years
To piggyback on what Patina and Meereesa said above, nearly every chain in Europe does this already...and it can be more like 1-2 Euros for a bag, not a few cents (at least in Spain)! I think we'd be amazed at how quickly people would adapt here. For small trips, you hardly even need a bag; it's easy and cheap enough to own several reusable bags so that if an unexpected big trip comes up you can rely on the bag(s) that you've stashed in your car or purse. We have about 12 bags in rotation right now, divided between our two cars, my work bag, and our "launch pad" by the front door. We reuse any plastic bags as trash can liners, but we have a tiny can and only need to take out the trash every other if we needed to "buy" plastic bags from a store to keep this habit, we'd only be spending about $5 per year.
jesssa jesssa 7 years
as one person already said, we have this law already in Toronto and some surrounding area. I completely 100% endorse it and enjoy using reusable bags for my items at stores. I work at a store that sells bags for 5cents each and it's really not a problem. if you want a bag you buy one and the money goes to an environmental charity or you bring your own. most people realise they don't need a bag and don't bother. and the whole thing has another great outcome as well. if you are bringing home less plastic bags, you have less to put in your trash cans. so you think twice about where you are putting your waste and maybe you will recycle that item or compost or 'green bin it' (as we have in my area for food waste) as opposed to just tossing it in the garbage where it will take up the now precious space. i just really think its a wonderful idea, even just to get people thinking about unnecessary consumption, proper disposal of waste and whatever other dialogue and discourse may arise.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
eh. i'll just have them put my stuff back in the cart w/o bags, like they do at costco. we reuse the paper bags for the recycling bin liners, and some of the stores i shop at charge 5 cents. but 20 cents? no. and i hate the reusable bags because they get so dirty. i don't even want to wash them in my washer.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 7 years
I reuse my plastic bags as well. I do like the idea of charging it - I have seen people getting more plastic bags than they need to, and this will be a way to help remind people not to waste resources.
patina patina 7 years
they've been doing that for quite some time in france, switzerland & italy (& maybe other countries in europe too, but those are just the places i've lived) & everyone brings their reusable bags. in italy, it's like 10 or 20 cents (euro) for your average plastic bag, but they have nicer ones too that last for years. it's a great idea & i have no idea why we haven't been doing it as well.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I reuse my (plastic) bags for dirty kitty litter and lunches. Um, separately, of course :P
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I have mixed feelings about this. Personally, I do reuse plastic bags. I use them as trash can liners at home. If I don't get plastic bags from the grocery stores, I'm going to buy trash can liners from the store. That's an out-of-pocket expense, AND the same amount of waste. I need trash can liners. Trash cans are gross without them. So for me, charging for plastic bags makes no difference as far as reducing waste (or saving money, if I bring my own bags).
marisaoswald marisaoswald 7 years
I think this is a great idea- it'll help give people a little reminder about using reusable bags. I know they already do this in Italy (and I think most European countries.. I might be wrong), China, and even Ikea!
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