Bag and Baggage

A comment from Pelf Nyok on Dede’s What’s In Your Bag post from earlier this month prompted a little thought & research on a simple but intriguing plan.   Increasingly, retail stores are beginning to charge for those insidious plastic shopping bags that we all seem to take for granted.   The amount charged is relatively trivial, but the hopes are that this plastic bag tax (or "PlasTax") is enough to influence a change in consumers’ behaviors.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised & proud to discover that Ireland pioneered a nationwide plan, the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy, back in March ’02 to impose a 15¢ charge on plastic shopping bags to encourage the use of reusable bags and help change people’s attitudes about litter & pollution in Ireland.   This was raised to 29¢ early this year to further encourage the adoption of reusable shopping bags.

  The money gathered by the levy has been used for environmental initiatives and has reportedly led to more than a 90% reduction in use of plastic shopping bags and a dramatic reduction in litter throughout Ireland.   Although some retailers switched to supplying (untaxed) paper bags, many simply stopped supplying bags altogether.

So what do you think — should more retailers begin charging for the "free" plastic bags to encourage consumers to be more mindful of their choices?