Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Plastic Bag Tax

Litter is bad.  Period.  We all know it, it isn't new, it isn't novel.  Why does it still happen so much?  How do we fight it?  Local governments around the world are trying one idea to make a difference- a tax on plastic shopping bags.

In many urban areas, shopping bags blow through the street like tumbleweeds.  Attempts to make the city more appealing with sidewalk trees are made ugly with little plastic bag wind socks stuck in branches at every level.  Such is not the case here in Dublin, and hasn't been since the introduction of this tax.

A plastic Tesco shopping bag
A bag like this'll cost ya
Today, a plastic shopping bag will cost the shopper 22 cents.  This isn't a charge by the stores, but a mandated government tax to discourage their use.  Stores now offer a wide variety of reusable bags right at checkout for those who forget to bring them along for their trip.  This is very handy, and if one does forget one's bags, it is a preferable choice to buy a new reusable bag because they are the same price as three or four plastic bags.

This has decreased plastic bag use (and plastic bag litter) drastically.  Based on observations we've collected from our local friends, Dublin used to be a plastic-bag nightmare-scape.  Today, one can enjoy the beautiful parks and streets free of plastic bag trash.  If only we could find a way to reduce the litter of bottles, cans, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, gum, newspaper, spent lighters...

We have had to get bags only twice since we have been here, and we have made a point to reuse them ourselves, simply because we had to pay so much for them!  What an idea.  I hope more and more places put laws like this on the books.  Plastic bags will still be used, and still be thrown away, but we will save a huge volume of plastic litter and trash in the landfills of the world, and that can never be a bad thing.

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