Ireland instituted a 33 cent tax on the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag in 2002, and they now have disappeared from the landscape. Everyone now has in the boot of the car, or in the briefcase, a cloth bag that can be filled with whatever is bought.
One shopper at a Superquinn’s reported that he’d just wheel the groceries to the car and load them in without bags if he forgot the cloth bag, as noted in the New York Times online this morning.
What a different world than the ugliness evident everywhere here in America – bags caught high up in trees, where they stay for years, bags floating along the street, where they can tangle in car wheels or melt onto the exhaust system to provide a worse-than-skunk aroma.
All over the world there are efforts to eliminate them. In Bangladesh, they clog the fragile sewer system. In Australia, they are working on legislation. Countries are not willing to substitute paper bags, since their manufacture leaves a bigger carbon footprint.
I have, for the last year or so, gotten better at remembering that I have cloth bags in the trunk. It no longer feels like a chore. In fact, since a bunch of cloth bags fit inside one bag, I can give myself choices for different stores. And can pick out a funny bag, an environmental logo bag, a padded bag, one with a handpainted swan.
The tax is a good idea. Finding ways to make bags trendy could follow along with that. And using cloth bags is another way we can help Mother Nature. Hooray!