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(Washington Post)   Washington DC: Our plastic bag tax has hugely reduced their use. YAY, environment. Critics: OK, then why are you collecting the same amount in taxes now as you did 4 years ago? DC: Uhhh..hey, did you catch that Chris Christie news conference?   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 87
    More: Fail, UHHH, YAY, Washington DC, press conference, environments, tax collections, sales taxes  
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6741 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Jan 2014 at 2:01 AM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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KIA
2014-01-10 03:51:34 AM  
It is very hard to say that DC's schemes have ever been well thought-out.
 
2014-01-10 04:11:52 AM  
TuteTibiImperes: Also, it seems like grocery stores are cheapening out with their bags lately.

Noticed this as well, I guess it comes down to companies providing less with less all for their almighty dollar.
/Wish that wasn't the case but quality has gone extremely south in shopping bags and, well, everything manufactured.
 
2014-01-10 04:19:17 AM  
When Baltimore City starting talking about this crap I was already reusing the bags I get from Aldi's. I also use a backpack when I shop. After each trip and all the groceries are put away, I fold up the bags and put them in the backpack. Heavier items go in the backpack, the others in doubled up plastic bags.

I carry four doubled up bags with me, with an extra as an spare. I literally am the only one in my neighborhood that does this. But I have always been environmentally conscious anyway and or cheap.
 
2014-01-10 04:19:54 AM  
Plastic bags should be banned because of their tendency to end up as litter. Paper bags at least degrade quickly. Reusable bags are best, but obviously such a concept is too hard for many people.

This may not be a popular thing to say, but it's true. Plastic bags are basically litter waiting to happen, they are nothing but trouble.
 
2014-01-10 04:29:21 AM  
Every supermarket in China charges about 5 mao (10 mao is 1 yuan, $1 is 6 yuan) for a standard plastic shopping bag. Almost everyone uses their own reusable bags (hell, businesses give them away as promotional items) and old people are stingy- they bring their own bags, rather than spend 1 yuan on two bags to carry their groceries. If you go to the local market to buy meat and veggies three times a week (pretty common here), that 12 yuan every two weeks will buy a bowl of noodles.

I usually forget my reusable bags at home since I shop near my office, and I just use the plastic bags in the wastebasket anyway. But I'm fully in support of people using less plastic- that shiat gets everywhere and never breaks down.
 
2014-01-10 04:47:13 AM  

adamatari: Plastic bags should be banned because of their tendency to end up as litter. Paper bags at least degrade quickly.


Nothing really degrades in a landfill.
 
2014-01-10 05:57:23 AM  

TuteTibiImperes: optikeye: I use reusable bags for supermarket. Not so much for environmental reasons. It's just a better system to carry things.

I'm lazy...and I can fit 3 times the stuff into a reusable bag than the store's plastic bags. That means less trips to the car. The reusable bags don't eject stuff all the floor board or trunk like the plastic bags too so that's another point in their favor and less work for me and less surprises when I find that container of sour cream that fell out of plastic bag in the trunk 2 months later.

No argument there, the reusable bags are certainly superior - they just require you to think ahead when shopping.

Also, it seems like grocery stores are cheapening out with their bags lately.  They seem much more likely to tear and have things suddenly fall through them than before.

Also, while I'm on the subject of plastic bags, for some reason the baggers at my local Publix like to load 2-liter soda bottles in horizontally, so when you're carrying the bag by the handles, the bottles are lying side by side parallel to the ground.  They don't do this at any other store I've been to, and I don't know why they do it there, but it makes them more difficult to carry and seemingly puts more stress on the bag

I read a story about a child soldier in the DRC that had to deal with the same issue. my heart went out to him also.

 
2014-01-10 06:09:51 AM  
The flat collection rate does no take into account any reduction in bag usage when the fee was imposed. If on day 1 75% of folks opted for the reusable bags and 25% did not, there would be a 75% reduction in plastic bag use. If that same 75%/25% continued  the tax collection would be pretty constant. The real test would be plastic bag purchases by stores before and after the ban.
 
2014-01-10 06:22:12 AM  
Ireland introduced a plastic bag levy that took the consumption of plastic bags down to 6-9% of the pre-levy figure (it fluctuates). When per capita use of bags rises they hike the levy up a bit to bring back down.

I imagine that there is a pain threshold required to motivate people to buy reusable bags or recycle them and a 5c charge doesn't reach that threshold.
 
2014-01-10 07:05:23 AM  
I have friends in Montgomery County, MD who biatch about their bag tax as some kind of offensive governmental overreach (possibly because it started as an outright ban) that it's their moral duty to defeat. What I don't know is whether they end up using reusable bags, or they drive to a neighboring county to do their shopping. Which would be insane unless they live within a few miles of the border.

I would love it if plastic bag consumption fell off a cliff, but even if it doesn't, having a levy that goes towards cleaning up the environmental damage they cause when they end up in local waterways is a good thing. And apparently the Anacostia river needs a lot of TLC.
 
2014-01-10 07:16:31 AM  
I suppose the correct study would be to tally the amount of plastic bag litter that's on the street or in the river-- that's why the bag taxes were originally passed.

Would be interesting to see a demographic study of who pays for disposable bags and who brings their own. It looks to me that poor people are the ones who are most likely to fail to bring their own.
 
2014-01-10 07:23:20 AM  
As someone who lived in an age before plastic shopping bags became popular, let me say that you folks are certainly going to regret it dearly if this trend continues.

Ever tried to handle your trash with a greasy paper sack? I had to as a kid. The experience farking sucked and I really would not look forward to having to go through that again.

image.shutterstock.com

Have fun trying to make it to the curb with a paper trash bag, suckers!
 
2014-01-10 07:25:30 AM  
Do they make a bag big enough to put Congress in so we can toss them in a landfill?
 
2014-01-10 07:27:49 AM  
Up here different grocery stores offer different reusable bags for about $2 each and when one gets old and crappy they replace it for free even if it's a competitors bag. Everyone who works here brings their lunch in them I've used them when moving and car camping, and you can capture a house cat with one simply by leaving an empty bag on the floor for about 30 seconds.  We don't have bag fees for plastic bags but the reusable bags are super convenient and most people use them.
 
2014-01-10 07:28:29 AM  

reubendaley: Triumph: If taxing something reduces its prevalence, we should tax poverty.

Tax women who won't have sex with Farkers.


Leave our wives out of this!
 
2014-01-10 07:41:45 AM  

C18H27NO3: TuteTibiImperes: Also, it seems like grocery stores are cheapening out with their bags lately.

Noticed this as well, I guess it comes down to companies providing less with less all for their almighty dollar.
/Wish that wasn't the case but quality has gone extremely south in shopping bags and, well, everything manufactured.


Going Extremely South?

s30.postimg.org
 
2014-01-10 08:03:19 AM  
I thought using reusable grocery bags was supposed to kill us?  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2196481
 
2014-01-10 08:36:34 AM  
For everyone saying they always forget their bags: My bags live in my car. There's no reason to store any in my house, and yes, they make the car a little messy, but I end up using them for shopping about 75% of the time. Even doing that, and using the plastic ones I get for everything I can think of (trash bags, storage bags) I have a huge supply of the plastic.
Oh, and I haven't bought a single one of these reusable bags- people are always giving them away as a promotional item.
 
2014-01-10 08:50:31 AM  
I'm ok with taxes as a method to fund public needs like roads, education, utilities, and things a government should be doing. Trying to enact social policy through either tax or tax break, not so much, since it rarely achieves the desired effect, and more often just ends up becoming a loophole that results in budget shortfalls.

On the topic of bags, we have 7-8 reusable bags we take with us for grocery day. If given the option when buying one or two items I just turn down the bag altogether, and while we do still end up accruing some plastic bags, at the least we take them back in and recycle them at the grocery store(whether they're recycled from there or not, who can say, but we're at least trying the reduce/reuse first before the recycle).

In a way, I like the Aldi's model for things like this. Just don't offer the bags for free. People can bring their own or pay the pittance for them. But that's a private company action, not something that needs to be dictated or incentivized by any governing body.

So, scrap the tax.
 
2014-01-10 08:57:13 AM  
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't take to the bring your own re-usable bag thing...

But bit by bit I was actually sick of seeing so many bags in my house, and sure we use them for garbage and several things, but the number was so great that we'd have to throw many out.

So I got a bunch of the cloth-like type... it took some getting used to, and the good thing was that they were solid, held 2-3 times the amount of stuff, but they would roll around in the truck and their content would spill out.

Then I saw the folding "box-like" bags at one store, and while more expensive, I was sold.

I always try to keep a bunch in my car and it's just a question of grabbing them on the way on to the store, and not forgetting to bring them back to the car one emptied at home.

They look similar to this, I'd take a picture but the ones I have are all in my car's trunk.

cdn.4imprint.ca
They are amazing... easy to pack, they stand on their own in the car, hold even more than the cloth bags, or at least, much much easier to use.  There's a bunch being used around the house as they make great (lid-less) boxes to hold stuff.

And they fold out flat.  So I put them in one of them, and it'll hold a good dozen or more of them.

Some have started to rip at the bottom due to age (folding it over and over wears the material down bit by bit), but due to their construction, it's still not a problem as they have a bottom panel that slides down.

So yes, it takes some getting used to (using re-usable bags) but once you get into the habit, I know that I now hate to use cheap plastic one.
 
2014-01-10 08:58:44 AM  
truck = trunk

/still not awake
 
2014-01-10 09:11:55 AM  

The Saturday Night Massacre: The flat collection rate does no take into account any reduction in bag usage when the fee was imposed. If on day 1 75% of folks opted for the reusable bags and 25% did not, there would be a 75% reduction in plastic bag use. If that same 75%/25% continued  the tax collection would be pretty constant. The real test would be plastic bag purchases by stores before and after the ban.


Finally, thank you. The failure to recognize this is what makes the article idiotic.  I know a couple of people quoted in the article and I can't believe they didn't point it out. (Then again, perhaps they did and the WaPo chose to leave it out.)  As far as I know no one did a well designed before-and-after study that you suggest, but certainly the survey data and lots of anecdotal accounts suggest that it has reduced disposable-bag use on a per sale basis. But overall disposable-bag use has risen a bit for the obvious reason that sales in the District have increased. About the time the fee went into affect a Whole Foods opened in Foggy Bottom and it's doing gang-farking-busters business.  You now see loads of people streaming onto the metro toting their reusable bags full of WF groceries. Plus Walmart just opened two stores in the District so expect bag usage to go up even more, but not as much as it would sans the fee.
 
2014-01-10 09:41:19 AM  
Surely those "green" fabric bags represent GMO crops or over use of pesticides or dyes that leak into the rivers. Shouldn't we tax them too? Let's tax everything.
 
2014-01-10 09:53:38 AM  

The Saturday Night Massacre: The flat collection rate does no take into account any reduction in bag usage when the fee was imposed. If on day 1 75% of folks opted for the reusable bags and 25% did not, there would be a 75% reduction in plastic bag use. If that same 75%/25% continued  the tax collection would be pretty constant. The real test would be plastic bag purchases by stores before and after the ban.


Sorry, I read this as "the fiat collection rate". It terns out my misreading is correct.

/maybe that highlights what this really is. It's just "give up 5% of the first dollar you spend".

Maybe people should start getting reusable bags free from anywhere, stockpile the farkers, and stop paying for bags. Or are people not even capable of planning like that?
 
2014-01-10 09:54:22 AM  
I live in DC.  I and everyone else I know brings reusable bags to the grocery store.  My GF and I just leave them in the trunk of our car.  If we make an unplanned trip to the store and we get a bunch of stuff we'll pay the tax and use plastic.  Actually once we were low on plastic bags (great for picking up dog poop) so even though we had our reusable bags we opted for plastic anyway.


McDougal: I thought using reusable grocery bags was supposed to kill us?  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2196481


Some of our bags are pretty rank.  Yikes.
 
2014-01-10 10:11:06 AM  
And this thread yet again proves that hard right dinks will rail against pretty much ANYTHING no matter how easy it is to do even if it has ENORMOUS benefits to the community and environment and costs NOTHING if it even HINTS at being a "liberal" or "eviro friendly".

How god damned lazy and stupid do you have to be to whine about keeping a few reusable bags in your car? You'd rather PAY for plastic bags and produce more trash in the streets than do one simple little thing that requires almost ZERO effort.

Yeah. Sounds really fiscally conservative and bootstrappy.

But it's not about the bags or the "inconvenience". It's about "stickin' it to the libs" even if much of your own damned party encourages reducing unnecessary plastic bag usage if only for the sake of cutting down on litter cleanup and waste management costs.

Jackwagons.
 
2014-01-10 10:26:41 AM  
I shop at Costco. Those puny plastic bags are useless to me.
 
2014-01-10 10:58:16 AM  
Wait wait I don't understand.  The point is to keep people from randomly tossing plastic shopping bags into streets and rivers??

WHO THE HELL DOES THAT?

What kind of cretin takes a big old supermarket double-handled plastic bag and just chucks it down?  In 2014?

I love plastic supermarket shopping bags.  They're strong, compact, and anything BUT disposable.  We use them to store our paper and plastic garbage until we're ready to take them outside -- this avoids having a set of additional bigass garbage cans indoors for recycling.

We use them to tote things as needed too.  Only very rarely do we find ourselves with too many -- then we'll reluctantly put them in the regular trash or into plastic recycling.

Again, who the hell is so callous as to just randomly toss those big bags into the street, and what kind of idiot politician expects those people to stop because the bag cost 5 cents?
 
2014-01-10 11:05:38 AM  
I don't have a problem paying $.05 for a garbage bag. It's 5 farking cents; over the course of a year, I might lose out on 4 or 5 whole DOLLARS!! ZOMG!!! (Yes, for someone making $5/year or less, this is a killer. Moving on...)

The bigger problem is that stores don't know to knock off the same $.05 PER REUSABLE BAG. So if you only shop weekly and brought reusable bags on 26 of those trips, you'd break even for the year (assuming your grocer actually follows the rules, which most don't).

Stores also don't know that if you buy prepared food, they give you the (or your first) bag free. I've also had stores try and charge me the $.05 for using a paper bag.

Long story short - fark you, DC stores that don't care to follow the rules.
 
2014-01-10 11:16:06 AM  
Boulder started charging an extra .10 per plastic or paper bag half a year back. I see a lot more reusable bags in grocery stores now. YMMV.
 
2014-01-10 11:32:38 AM  
I use the plastic bags to take my lunch to work, so they're pretty handy.  Also liners for small trash cans, and for picking up dog poop when walking.
 
2014-01-10 01:55:24 PM  
I usually stop by the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up a few items. Reusable bag goes in the car so it's ready for me when I need it, Fill it up (meat never goes in it, too leaky) and take it home. After I empty it in the kitchen, I take it back to the car the next morning. Not exactly rocket surgery. I figure that bag saves me about 5-6 plastic store bags a week. It's carried hundreds worth by now.
 
2014-01-10 04:29:23 PM  
Our county banned plastic bags altogether about a year ago. No plastic bags at all. If you need a bag you can buy a paper bag for 10 cents. Or maybe one of those fancier woven plastic bags for a dollar. Quite the boon for the stores. One store that used to push the use of paper bags (pre-ban) was forced to start charging.

It was difficult to adjust to at first. We had to collect all the free reusable ones we could find. Smart marketers would give away logo'd ones that might be used in their competitors' stores. I had to BUY a roll of small plastic bags for the small trash cans and for cleaning out the litter boxes. Mrs. Third and I have to have our own cache of bags in each car since we both do the shopping. And since the backseat or trunk has a bunch of these bags in there all the time be sure you don't accidentally leave a bag with only a couple items in there thinking it was an empty.

Inevitably my dumbass forgets to put the bags back in my car when I've emptied them. Then I get the fun of unloading the cart into the car piece by piece and bagging them up when I get home just to carry them in. At least Costco will offer a box for smaller items. Oh, and be sure to bring enough to keep your meat and veggies separated. Most of my bags don't take kindly to the washing machine either.

When we're in the next county over (30 miles) for whatever reason we'll do our non-perishable shopping and stock up on free bags. The disposable ones are very handy for things other than groceries. Much more useful that paper bags.

All in all it's a pain the ass but nothing terrible. I get it, less waste and less litter. But I also see it as a feel-good ordinance that also happens to line the local coffers with the 10 cent per bag tax. In a time when everybody is trying to stretch their dollar I honestly don't think we needed another tax.
 
2014-01-10 04:33:32 PM  
Tax all people who stand in water.  Problem solved.
 
2014-01-10 07:38:52 PM  
It's a wiberal city.  It's not about wesults, it's about how it makes us feel.
 
2014-01-11 01:21:21 AM  

fusillade762: You could just put the bags in the trunk of your car as soon as you empty them after a shopping trip. Though I guess that might not work if you have to park a long way from your house.


Good idea, but it doesn't work in practice.  Once you get all your shiat inside and unpack it, you don't walk back out to your car.

I have a literal shiatton of plastic bags because I keep them in the house to use as small trash bags around the house, but I don't keep any in my car.  The house is the destination, not your car.
 
2014-01-11 09:32:27 AM  

Lsherm: fusillade762: You could just put the bags in the trunk of your car as soon as you empty them after a shopping trip. Though I guess that might not work if you have to park a long way from your house.

Good idea, but it doesn't work in practice.  Once you get all your shiat inside and unpack it, you don't walk back out to your car.

I have a literal shiatton of plastic bags because I keep them in the house to use as small trash bags around the house, but I don't keep any in my car.  The house is the destination, not your car.


I was the same at first... bringing bags to the car wasn't something I considered worth while.

So the best solution is that I just pile them in a place that when I'm heading out, I'm able to grab them on my way out and put them in the trunk.

Again, I'll mention the hard box-like bags that I use (see previous post for picture)... which are so much better than any sort of bags, that I absolutely hate doing groceries without them, so there's incentive for me to remember to bring them.

For the garbage bag thing, I do get some when I go and do a Walmart or such run (non-groceries), and that's been good enough to get more than enough that I need around the house. But for groceries, the reusable box-bags are 1000x better... to the point that it's not even so much about the re-use thing, it's that they are so much more convenient to use.
 
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