Paper or Plastic

January 23rd, 2010

Inspired by D.C. bags wasteful shopping habit with tax on paper and plastic (Washington Post 1/02/10), Congrats! The bag tax has changed my behavior. (Bryan Dierlam, 1/06/10), Free bags – but at a price, Seeing is believing on bag tax (Washington Post letters 1/17/10), and The DC bag tax: In shopper’s minds, it’s a 5-cent highway robbery (Washington Post 1/23/10).

“My family and I will change our behavior by voting with our feet. We’ll go to Virginia to get our bags — and our groceries. I went tonight and was given 55 cents worth of grocery bags free of charge, and they even double-bagged my gallon of milk. I also paid $2.36 in sales tax revenue. I’m not sure that shifting sales tax revenue from the District to Virginia is what the law’s proponents had in mind, but that will be the effect in our household. Unfortunately, it will also affect D.C. businesses. As for the state of Virginia implementing a similar tax to thwart people like us, good luck getting that past downstate legislators in Richmond.” – spiteful  DC resident Bryan Dierlam
“It’s not rational, I know. But this is where my zeal for conservation runs into my passion for small government. The bag tax makes me batty; I’ll do a lot to avoid paying it.” – bag tax avoider Virginia Johnson

Bryan: Out of pique, you say you’ll now shop in VA.

To avoid the nickel per bag you’d otherwise have to pay.

But as “Free bags” points out, you saved $0.55 in bags but paid $2.36 in VA sales tax,

So why don’t you just take a deep breath and relax.

(And by the way, there’s no sales tax on groceries in DC

So you paid that VA tax unnecessarily.

Your anti bag tax view at first just seems moronic,

But since you paid more tax in VA than DC, it’s also ironic.)

So you’re already down $1.81, not counting the gas to drive out there.

Why pay more to protest a “tax” you think unfair?

And as “Seeing” points out, plastic bags in VA have been similarly problematic,

But retail lobbyists quashed a VA bag tax initiative (how emblematic).

And yes, Virginia, there are littering laws,

But, you of all people should support the tax because

As a legislative affairs specialist and environmentalist you should know

That taxes are usually a more efficient way to go.

It’s impossible (and more intrusive) to give tickets to everyone who litters,

But it’s much easier to administer the nickel bag tax (far fewer “emitters”).

The tax also provides a welcome revenue source

That allows DC to address river pollution at its source.

And as you yourself said about the tax, you “do a lot to avoid paying it,”

Which means you’re really proving it works instead of gainsaying it.

A NW Safeway said their use of bags is down 50%,

Which for the Anacostia and its fish is heaven-sent.

If you don’t want to pay, just relax—

There’s an easy way to avoid the tax.

Use the recyclable bags

That everyone now to the store drags.

I know, when people get used to getting things for “free”

They get upset when they’re then charged a fee.

But we were already paying for those bags before–

Bags were just built into the cost of other things, so people used more.

And the tax is for a cause, so consider it a donation:

Plastic bags make up 40% of the trash in the Anacostia basin.

Buying bags and paying the tax is part of the movement

To help bring about the Anacostia’s improvement.

I too often forget to bring my reusable bags along to the store

And end up taking things home unbagged, or buying a few more.

But eventually, we’ll get used to it

(New things take a while after you get introduced to it).

It’s like this with healthcare too:

When uninsured go to the ER, the hidden cost is paid by me and you.

So whether healthcare or bags, reform just makes sense:

To keep spending and wasting so much is just nonsense.


Here’s’s report on the program.


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Posted in Environment | 4 Comments »

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4 Responses to “Paper or Plastic”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » The Nickel Bag Says:

    […] PS to Fox News and Bryan the bag-tax hater: […]

  2. nikflorida Says:

    I’m glad it’s not just me. Avoiding the bag tax (in DC or elsewhere) really is as simple as using reusable bags, which I much prefer since I started using them a few years ago. They’re not only better for the environment, but they’re MUCH better bags. And it’s really not at all difficult to make a habit of bringing them with you to the grocery. I just keep mine in the car. You know, back when people used carts to haul their groceries? Maybe that’s next.

  3. Newsericks Says:

    Here here. Thanks for your comment (and for reusing your bags).

  4. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Better to Give (Up) than to Receipt Says:

    […] rub against your food or reusable bag, whatever you […]

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