Monday, February 4, 2008

Paper or Plastic: Changing the Incentives

I have a confession to make, I have probably about 100 plastic grocery bags in my pantry closet. They are handy for small trash bins or carrying lunches, but I still have way too many. I do own enough tote bags to bring to the grocery store to carry stuff home. But I don’t bring them because of a combination of forgetting and it seems like it would be harder to carry the two blocks home (I walk to the grocery store). But honestly I have not tried using my totes. Perhaps this sheds new light on some attempts to regulate plastic bag usage through bans or taxes. For example, the New York Times article highlights Ireland's new 33 cent tax on plastic bags. Perhaps using cloth bags would not be that bad and I just have not tried it. Another twist on the tax is it seems to have changed perceptions about plastic bags

“[after the tax] Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.”

I just hope no one is cleaning up after their dog with reusable cloth bags.

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