Whatever Happened to Paper Bags?

Toronto’s mayor, David Miller, put forth a proposal today stating that, starting sometime in the future, all retail stores in the city would have to charge 5-cents for every plastic bag used to pack up one’s purchases.  This comes after negotiations between the mayor and the heads of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, retooling a former proposal that would see a 10-cent discount for every plastic bag not used.  For the bylaw to pass, it still needs to be voted on my city council.

What I don’t get is why people can’t just take reusable bags with them when they go shopping.  Okay, I realize that sometimes you pass by a store and realize that you need to grab something.  Your shopping trip was unplanned.  You didn’t forcast bringing a bag with you.  However, I know from my own experience, and those of every family member and roommate I’ve ever lived with, that for the majority of the time (especially regarding grocery shopping) people know when they’re headed out to buy stuff.  When I leave my house for the supermarket, I automatically get my reusable bags from their place in my kitchen and take them with me.  Just like I remember to take my keys so I’m not locked out of my house.  People who always drive to the store could just keep them in their car.  It really takes nearly no extra effort.  Those who don’t do it are just lazy.

Why charge only 5 cents?  A lot of lazies are not going to care about spending an extra 30 cents at the check-out.  I bet if the cost was 50-cents a bag, or if stores only made available the 99-cent reusable bags, most people would start remembering to bring their own bags along with them from time-to-time.

On a related note, the Toronto Star did an article last year called Battle of the Supermarket Bags, to help you to decide which kind of reusable shopping bags to get.

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