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How do you feel about D.C.'s new bag tax?

By Jodi Westrick  |  January 22, 2010; 7:37 AM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Well, I'm actually buying in MD and not VA. I actually support the intent of the law, but it doesn't go far enough. It's only focused on cleaning up the eastern part of the city, but we all pay. We actually need to use the funds to catch and punish litterers all over the city. I also don't trust that the fund won't be used to pay some more of Fenty's "fraternity brothers" with no monitoring of what really happens. I'm shopping outside the city as much as possible and hope others do too. I'd really like to see this produce no revenue for the city and also actually backfire and cut into sales tax revenue. Let's drive Fenty and the entire Council from office.

Posted by: blankspace | January 22, 2010 2:51 PM

People are ignoring it. Most don't remember to take a bag or bags with them. The nickel price is not modifying behavior. The onus needs to be placed on the retailer to force the customer to buy a reusable bag or carry the purchase in hand and in pockets.

An unintended consequence occurred while I carried a bottle of whiskey in hand home from the liquor store. Is that legal on the street, bus, metro?

Posted by: vinsnash | January 22, 2010 5:57 PM

Groceries are cheaper out in VA where I work, so I shop on the way home. Reusable bags are a PITA to remember to take to the store and carry around while shopping. Besides, they just scream "I'm better than you for using them"...Who cares :P???

Posted by: sigmagrrl | January 22, 2010 8:22 PM

I put my purchases in whatever I'm carrying or in my arms. I will NOT pay this tax. Matter of fact, it reminds me to not buy in DC at all. I just got back from Arlington; I couldn't find a legal space in DC and there was parking enforcement all over, so I just drove to VA. Goodbye revenue that lets employers create jobs, goodbye sales tax revenue. Gave me a warm feeling, doing my bit to add to DC's unemployment rate and deficit problems.

And a year from now, three years from now, the Anacostia will be as filthy as ever. if nothing else, PG can litter in the Anacostia with impunity.

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 22, 2010 9:34 PM

I think it's a great idea, although 5c a bag is too little.

And all the comments about shopping in MD/VA, I call BS.

Posted by: thor2 | January 22, 2010 9:40 PM

sgmagrl, people don't pick up their dog's turds to cultivate some sense of ambivalent superiority, they do it because it's the right thing to do, much like the people who bring reusable bags to the store. In this case, common sense truly deems any concerns regarding the opinions of others irrelevant. I care deeply about this matter, and you probably should too. The petroleum plastic bags are made from comes from fossil fuels, which we should seriously reduce our use of, for economic and political reasons both. They aren't biodegradeable either, and the great mass of them aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Both are compelling reasons to take the arduous and controversial step of using a bag made from a more benign material or simply not using a bag at all. gbooksdc, having been asked to alter behaviors which are within your power to change, and morally, you should be willing to change, you intend to instead react with even greater cynical recalcitrance. That is a petty thing to do.

Posted by: dokbionic | January 22, 2010 10:59 PM

The policy was imposed in a not-so-consumer friendly way. Most people heard about it within a day of its implementation. If cab fares are changed, it takes months. When the smoking ban was in place, restaurants had months to comply. But what about DC residents? We get no respect. I'm sick of it. Five cents isn't a lot...but I don't want to pay it.

Also, i haven't heard anything about what's being done to help poor people -- some of which ONLY come to the grocery store w/food stamps.

Im sure enviros feel good about themselves and all self righteous. Annoying.

Posted by: bosslady1 | January 23, 2010 1:08 AM

It's a relief not to have to tell the clerks to stop using those plastic bags. I hang my reusable bags from the door knob to remind me to take them. No problem--have been using them for over 30 years but clerks always rushed to use the plastics, doubling and half filling them. Corralling the plastic bags and remembering to take them back to the store was a PITA.

Posted by: Frances4 | January 23, 2010 8:44 AM

I live in MD, work in DC and am pretty diligent already about never taking plastic bags at the grocery store or other shops, preferring to help the environment and use reusable cloth and other bags. However, at lunchtime, I confess, I've forgotten to bring my reusable bags and have ended up carrying sandwiches, sodas and snacks in hand down the street. But I love this tax and think it's a great idea to actually tax the problem and use the money for the solution, cleaning up the river. The problem is that people see this as a DC tax when you should really see this as a small price to pay to clean up your environment. And it's a great monetary incentive to remember to use less bags -- women can throw a few reusable plastic bags in the bottom of their purse. I even have one that is a reusable bag that folds up into a cute little pouch. And as one other person said, keep them on the back of your front door to remember to bring them when you go out.

Posted by: melp | January 23, 2010 12:34 PM

The Anacostia River and tributaries are blighted by not only plastic bags but drink bottles and cans. A lot of people think that it is beer bottles and cans but most of them are non alcoholic beverage containers. Right along with the beverage containers are the potato chip and candy bags and wrappers which are now days made out of plastic and do not biodegrade. Styrofoam cups and clamshells exist in huge numbers. Funds from the nickel a bag fee can be used for Rock Creek and the Potomac but are mostly targeted to the Anacostia River. A nickel is a good reminder to carry your reusable bag to the store.
Everyone is invited to come out in April to the Earth Day cleanup of the Anacostia, Rock Creek and the Potomac.

Posted by: Buffalobob1 | January 24, 2010 3:30 PM

I understand the intentions of the bag tax but aren't we taxed enough. We pay DC taxes and we are not even a state. Instead of posing more taxes why isn't the mayor and his council members trying to get the DC residents some voting rights. The present DC government has set this city back almost 20 yrs. The entire council, along with the mayor need to be impeached and start over. Watch out for MD and VA, they are thinking of doing this bag tax too.

Posted by: barbarapeterson | January 25, 2010 12:21 PM

Please. Does anyone really believe that this money is going to be used to clean up the environment? It won't. First off, 2 cents goes back to the stores themselves - their payoff for not opposing the measure. The remaining 3 cents? Right into the money pit...

Posted by: harkes4ever | January 25, 2010 4:38 PM

There is an article by the Wall Street Journal about the unintended consequences of this bag tax, specifically businesses who have food licenses don't know whether to charge or not, causing all sorts of confusion.

Posted by: rjclemmer | January 26, 2010 9:14 AM

In Portugese grocery stores, they have stacks of plastic bags at the cash register. You pick up as many as you need and pay for them along with the rest of your groceries. Or don't use a bag if you are getting one or two things. Or bring your own bags. Seriously, why do we Americans insist on getting so many things for "free"?

Posted by: n_mcguire | January 26, 2010 2:19 PM

One of the few good ideas that the DC government has ever had in its history. The only thing left at the end of the world will be cockroaches & plastic bags.

Posted by: uncivil | January 26, 2010 5:07 PM

To all the whiners commenting on here about not wanting to pay the nickle, please DON'T pay the nickle, because then you would still be using a petroleum-based, usually single-use bag. Just bring your own bags! You're not supposed to pay the nickle any more than you're supposed to let the state keep bottle deposits on cans and bottles; you're supposed to avoid paying the 5c by bringing your own bags, so stop whining. Yes, it takes a few weeks or so to get used to remembering a bag, but leave a couple in your trunk, in your office, by your coat, stuff a folding one in a pouch into your backpack or purse, and be glad that you're finally being encouraged to help us wean ourselves off a dreadful waste of oil in a way that you hadn't gotten around to taking part in yourself.

Posted by: halli620 | February 3, 2010 12:25 AM

1) It is NOT a tax if you are paying for a commodity and receiving an item in return for your money.
2) They are handing out free reusable bags at grocery stores left and right for those that are less fortunate.
3) What difference does it make if the money is going towards the Anacostia, the Potomac or a river in Nigeria? The point is to get people to stop using an unnecessary commodity that wastes resources.
4) The best way to prevent the "unintentional consequences" listed in the linked article is to charge for ALL bags. Plus an extra ten cents for every piece of tissue paper they give you at Victoria Secrets or other chi chi stores.
Finally, I am so sorry that taking a bag with you is inconvenient. But it is extremely inconvenient to continuously have to explain that this world isn't all about YOU.

Posted by: sassyoung | February 4, 2010 10:42 PM

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