Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rant: Plastic bags; oh the Humanity

The Seattle City Council, in a wondrous decision that is sure to be reversed within a few months, have slapped a 20cent charge on plastic shopping bags (effective 1 January 2009). Why? Well they want to encourage the use of reusable bags, reduce landfill oh, and generate some revenue for the city (I suspect the latter reason is the real driver behind this decision). I have a pretty big problem with nanny-state politics. I employ reusable bags for the majority of my grocery shopping, however I do revert to plastic (or paper) shopping bags when I'm caught short. After the initial use of the plastic bags they get recycle via GreenScapes (for which I pay a tidy sum). So as far as I'm concerned, I pay for the recycling of the plastic bags that I use. Charging me 20cents per bag is charging me twice for recycling. No thanks. Oh, and the bags hitherto have been "free" - their cost has been baked into the cost of groceries. Will the cost of the groceries be reduced now that the stores are no longer giving out "free" bags. I can say with almost 100% confidence: Ha!

It's not the 20 cents. It's the principle. I'm sure I'll forget about this until early in January when I'm in my local Safeway and will be facing a charge of a couple of dollars for plastic bags ("no - you can squeeze one more item in that bag - I don't need another 20cent bag to carry a 50cent newspaper..."). Sorry Safeway, but I'm going to be walking away from the stack of filled bags. I don't pay for plastic bags just to line the pockets of the city council. I know you didn't pass the law - but you didn't lobby sufficiently strongly against it. And perhaps if enough folks get pissed off you'll get the message and pass it on to the city council. Or I'll just buy from Amazon Fresh...;-)


goingblankagain said...

There has been a bag tax in Ireland for the last few years. It has made a noticeable difference to the general environment - the general consensus is that banning free plastic bags is a positive move for the local environment.

Most people bring their own reusable bags along when doing shopping, eliminating the general use of plastic bags.

Unknown said...

Such a different world:

"TESCO’s green bag is a simple..... It can be purchased at 10p and can be exchanged if it is already worn-out for free."

Alleged to be saving Tesco money, plus of course it means people take that bag to Sainsburys, or Asda etc and buy their food their in that bag too. Stores in WA don't seem to have twigged that now is the time to make sure the brand and free advertising on shoppers bags is yours.

Us... we use surplus ApacheCon '07 bags for shopping. I doubt it's led anyone to go to ApacheCon but you never know.

Colin Bodell said...

Good point Henri - looks like at least someone is doing the intelligent thing. 10p UK (with the current exchange rate) is about 20c US. Much better solution and I really like the "replace for free program". A grocery store will be getting it's customers to subsidize it's cost of advertising! Wonderful.

One thing to which I strongly object is the gouging by purveyors of "Green" items. Take a look at:
where you can buy a reusable grocery bag for $16.50. $16.50!!! are these things woven from spun gold? $16.50 my ass.

Colin Bodell said...

Oh, and why no attention to all of the plastic packaging used for grocery items? No matter if goods go into reusable bags or not, the volume of plastic that we cart home as a result of each shopping session makes the volume occupied by plastic grocery bags pale into insignificance. Could it be that to reduce the volume of plastic used in packaging grocery goods you'd have to deal with very large companies like General Mills that can afford very talented lawyers? Much better to slap 20 cents on grocery bags to be paid by a community that can't afford to fight back...