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January 08, 2010

Tuppence a Bag?

PlasticbagsI try very hard to be green and environmentally conscious.  I don't always succeed, but I do what I can when I can. 

Using the cool, reusable grocery bags from places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and my personal favorite from our summer pilgrimage to Hershey Park, makes me feel like I'm doing my little part to help -- even though I don't always remember to bring them with me to the store!  Sure, it's nice when you get five cents off your food bill for each bag you use, but let's face it -- a nickle isn't much of an incentive given what groceries cost these days.

As I was whizzing through the grocery store this morning, trying to get a week's worth of supplies in 15 minutes, I noticed a sign -- starting now, if you're picking up dinner in Washington, D.C. and you don't bring your recyclable bags, and instead rely on the store to provide "disposable" bags, you'll get charged five cents each!  Later in the day, as I popped by the local wine store for a bottle of red to go with dinner, I noticed the same sign!

In all honesty, I wasn't so excited about saving a nickel when I remembered to haul my reusable bags to the store, but it made me feel a virtuous in a green sort of way. But all of a sudden I'm annoyed at having to shell out an extra nickel for every bag I forget in the car! 

I know that makes no economic sense and that it's just the idea of someone taking something from me that ruffled my feathers.  But I wondered -- will having to pay for grocery bags make us more green? And will it really help to protect our local environment?  Five cents doesn't make a big difference to most of us one way or another, but trying to cut back on plastic and paper waste is a laudable goal, especially since I was pretty embarrassed when I had to explain to my ten-year-old the other week about where our trash goes and what a landfill is.

So I'm curious -- is a five-cent penalty enough to make you schlep back to the car for that ever-growing stash of reusable bags in your trunk or will you just hand over a quarter or so extra to keep from adding one more thing to your "to do" list?

When Joanne isn't struggling with her inner environmentalist, she's hanging out at her place, PunditMom, wondering whether Democrats and Republicans will ever find common ground!  She's also trying to stay focused as she writes her book based on her blog feature Mothers of Intention, due out in Fall 2010 (Bright Sky Press).

Original DC Metro Moms post.

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