Wendy Carlson for The New York Times
I knew I loved DC! What great news to hear that our nation's capitol has started charging a 5 cent tax on disposable plastic bags. The new law which went into effect on January 1st, not only dramatically reduced the amount of plastic bags being used, it generated $150,000 in one month to help clean up the Anacostia River. This is great news!
Back in 2002, Ireland placed a 15 cent tax on their plastic bags and dropped their usage by 90%. When I was living in Korea in the late 90s, we purchased pricey mandatory garbage bags, forcing us to be careful what we threw away. These garbage bags were also translucent and if you happened to throw out some recyclables in your regular garbage, forget about it. People in your apartment building would give you nasty looks for weeks. Seinfeld style.
It's taking the US a long time to get the message, but this taxing thing works! Especially when so many people are already on the verge of giving up plastic bags. Now the whole nation just needs to follow suit. At a time when most cities and states are experiencing budget crisis, THIS is the time!
Very important to remember is how resistant people can be to change. Many District residents were furiously up in arms when they first faced the tax in January. This Washington Informer article from January makes it very clear how angry many people were at the time.
I so admire our neighboring town of Westport, CT, for banning plastic bags in March of last year, becoming the first town in Connecticut to do so. In the year that has passed, not a single additional town in CT has followed suit although Westport reports no problems with the ban and a reduction of about a million bags so far. Wilton is said to be considering a similar law.
The New York Times reported that the ordinance had passed 26 to 5 despite opposition by representatives from the chemical industry and the supermarket chains. “Westport is well known for being progressive, and in the forefront of social issues,” said Gordon Joseloff, a first selectman, noting that it was one of the first communities to pass a resolution opposing the Vietnam War. (NYT)
In Korea, groceries were carried in wrapping scarves for centuries. Check out how to make big hobo bags (first pic) in the The Wrapping Scarf Revolution.
Bravo DC and Westport! What a great display of leadership.
Till next time, happy wrapping! xo Patricia