Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ready to pay for your bags at Giant, CVS?

You may have heard about DC's new plastic bag tax, where each plastic bag you use at a store will cost you 5 cents.

The rule starts Friday, so get ready to pay an extra quarter or so -- or you can bring your own bags, which is part of the idea. Giant, Harris Teeter, and CVS will be giving out reusable bags, which is pretty cool, and Target is planning on giving a 5-cent credit for reusing their own bags.

I kind of like this idea, since whenever I go to Giant it seems like I come home with 100 plastic bags. They already let you bring them back and drop them off, too.


  1. My experience with the Target credit is that they give you the 5 cents for any bag. Doesn't have to be a Target bag.

    So, what do we do for trash bags come January 1? The Washington Post tube bag is really too small to be helpful. Please don't say that we buy rolls of trash bags like suburbanites.

  2. Giant will give you 5 cents for any bag you bring in. The store I worked at included plastic and paper bags in that - not sure how this one works, but I know for a fact that they credit reuseable bags - even if they're from Safeway (GASP).

    I asked my dad the same question about trash bags, too. It's nice to have a stash of them under the sink. But $.05 per bag isn't too bad, really. Still pretty cheap in the long run.

  3. This won't really do anything for the environment and this TAX is just a money grab for the DC government. The Anacostia won't be any cleaner five years from now just because the city taxes plastic and paper bags. This tax will make the "young and hip" feel good about helping the environment without actually doing any hard work. That's my two cents.

  4. If the city really wanted to clean the Anacostia then they would stop the overflow from the sewers. Poo water ruins the Anacostia not plastic or paper bags. Mercury is found in our fish not plastic or paper bags.

  5. @Anonymouses:


    Ironically, there is substantial evidence that banning supermarket plastic bags causes a net increase in petroleum use.

    Because when a supply of free, useful, lightweight bags is no longer available, er, what do you do?

    You buy bags instead. But trash bags that you buy are much heavier than the supermarket variety.

    The environmentalists claim that the Anacostia is loaded with these bags. I can't say whether or not that is true. But if so, where are they coming from? Are people really throwing away thousands of bags every year in such a way that they end up in the Anacostia? If this is even true -- and they aren't ending up there as a result of DC's waste disposal practices or some other way -- does anyone really believe that a 5 cent bag tax will result in a behavior change for the kind of people who throw trash in the river?

    I don't see your typical drunk liquor store customer who tosses his trash on the sidewalk carrying around a reusable bag.

    This is a combination of environmental narcissism and money grubbing. And what a wonderful combination it is. The result is just yet another regressive tax for the citizens of DC.

    I pick up trash all the time. The majority of it is bottles, cans, and fast-food trash. None of which will be affected. The only time I EVER see a plastic bag is when it's got a six-pack holder or chinese carryout trash in it. I'm pretty sure that this tax will not result in either of those going away.

    Why shove this really inconvenient tax that is probably not even good for the environment down our throats while ignoring the obvious? Why not work on a bottle bill?

  6. There should be a law that requires stores to ASK IF WE WANT A BAG before they put my small items in 2 (or 3) bags. So many times I've had o say "it's OK, I'll just carry it" when I'm buying, say, a pack of gum. So wasteful...and now they're going to charge me for the checkout clerk's lack of sense or environmental concern? Aw HAIL no.

  7. While I have not seen any evidence that charging for plastic bags is directly linked to increased petroleum use, I have seen abundant evidence of the harmful effects of plastic bags.

    If bags are no longer free, how about using reusable bags? No need to BUY plastic bags. How hard is it to bring your own bag?

  8. Jamie, do you have any examples of the net petroleum increase?

  9. I can't speak to the veracity of this particular source but I've read about this over the last year in several places.

    Certainly some of this info comes from the petroleum industry, which should be suspect. But at the same time, I've been unable to find any analysis from objective sources about the consequences of bag taxes, which to me are very intuitive, since most people reuse the bags they get from markets and obviously would need an alternative without them.

    So as far as I'm concerned if the people supporting the tax aren't interested in studying the consequences, and disputing thse findings, then they have even less credibility than people with the opposite agenda. These findings are intuitive to me, so as long as nobody's saying otherwise it's all there is to go on.

    At the end of the day I have a hard time buying into things like this when there's very little discussion or even interest in understanding the consequences. All that tells me is that the people behind it aren't interested in knowing whether it's really good for the world, they just want their money.

    "The vast majority of people reuse "single-use" plastic bags for household tasks like bagging garbage and cleaning up messes. Ireland's plastic bag tax, initiated in 2002 to combat the aesthetic impacts of litter on tourism, virtually eliminated the use of the targeted bags but also resulted in a 77 percent increase in the sale of kitchen garbage bags."

  10. I already shopped in MD/Va for most stuff (groceries, PetSmart, etc.) so this really doesnt affect me. And if I did shop in DC, I would just put my stuff in one of the carts and put the stuff in my car. No prob! I dont believe the river is going to be a BIG beneficiary of the tax. The stores get 1-2 cents from the 5 cents. Not to mention if they take out administration fees, etc. So how clean will the river really get.

  11. Thanks, DC government, for "solving" yet another imaginary problem with yet another tax! Please, tax us more DC!

    Ah well. I guess I'm done buying stuff at the local CVS, this annoyance might be just the excuse I need to avoid buying anything in DC at all...

    If you live in this fascist district: good luck with that.

  12. By the way, don't recycle those bags, it's wasteful.

    That's right: (government) recycling is wasteful.


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