New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for a six-cent fee to be charged for each plastic bag now given away by city stores. He sees the fee (others might consider it a tax) as an effort to raise money for the city and to encourage greener living by creating an incentive for folks to switch to reusable bags instead. As the New York Times reports:
Plastic bags, particularly the flimsy ones that float over windy streets, are widely considered an environmental nuisance that use up petroleum, litter the landscape, clog storm drains and recycling equipment and linger for centuries in landfills. . . .While some New Yorkers welcome this change, the Times goes on to say, many others think the plan is just too big a disruption of their lifestyle.
Several European countries already impose hefty taxes of as much as 33 cents on standard plastic bags. San Francisco has banned them altogether at large grocery stores and pharmacies unless they are biodegradable bags, which are more expensive than regular ones.
What about Charlotte? Some grocery stores here already offer incentives for shoppers to bring their own cloth or string bags. The Home Economist, for instance, offers five cents off the receipt for each bag a shopper uses of their own. Personally, I think it's a great idea, and have found it fairly easy to remember to bring my own reusable bags to stores for quite a while now. But are others willing to give up the convenience of plastic bags? Would Charlotteans welcome not having these things pile up in pantries, trash bins and cars? Or has the plastic shopping bag become a too-ingrained habit of our city life? -- Kevin Siers