I don’t recall which year merchants began charging for paper or reusable plastic bags in San Francisco. It may have been in 2012.
I was already in the habit of bringing my own bag to the store, so I found it easy to adjust.
Not everyone has the advantage of finding time to focus on those details, though. It seems unlikely anyone who is grocery shopping with a van full of kids will remember to load bags into the van before leaving the house. So, the parent who has to look for bargains on groceries to feed a large family will also pay for bags.
Bags aren’t the only wasteful items in consumer culture, and the waste is escalating. Most people who drink coffee away from home didn’t used to go to coffee houses where disposable cups were handed out all day long. They drank hot liquids out of heavy duty ceramic cups in diners and restaurants, or they used washable mugs at work and took turns making coffee for everyone in the office.
Litter is increasing proportionately, and even when the mountains of paper coffee cups are disposed of properly they waste trees and energy, and add to another burden after they’re used.
At least one coffee house in my neighborhood offers a small discount for customers who bring their own reusable cups, and occasionally we hear suggestions that fees should be charged for disposable cups.
With good reason, in the United Kingdom there’s serious discussion of the possibility of charging customers for single-use cups and other packaging used for takeaway orders. The world must not continue acting on the assumption that we can maintain convenient habits without bad consequences. We’re drowning in this crap.
I admit I don’t have answers for parents who consistently forget to bring their own reusables when they’re trying to corral a bunch of energetic children. Still, we can’t go on this way forever, taking things we don’t need and then saying “this doesn’t affect me,” after throwing the packaging in the trash — or out the car window. Even the recycling or compost bin is less than ideal, when we don’t need the packaging in the first place.
Here’s an article posted today by Adam Vaughan at The Guardian: