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Paper, Plastic or Reusable?

David McNew, Getty Images

Earlier today I was at the grocery store and the bagger asked me if I wanted “paper or plastic”. A once common question, now usually unless you specify that you want paper you’ll get plastic. I replied by saying “plastic” and then groceries went into three or four of those plastic bags. Every time Lynn/we or I go to the grocery store we always forget our reusable bags, we have about 10 of them, they just never make it to the trunk.

A few weeks ago Portland city leaders came up with an idea to make the city greener by proposing a 10 cent per bag fee or “tax.” The agenda has some steam.

This is to encourage people to use those reusable bags which are often sold for a dollar or at times given away as a free gift at functions or with promotions.

I’m on the fence with this idea. I think I’d be on board if it were a deposit like with bottles and cans or if the fee was two or three cents. I like having those bags to put trash in. I use them in the bathroom and in the kids’ rooms. The quality over all on these bags however has gone down tremendously in the past 10 years. You’re really lucky if you get one home without a rip. Are they even worth a dime? A can of soda is well worth a nickel plus you get that back if you return it.

If the ordinance were to pass in my town (Auburn), I’d deal with it obviously but I’d make sure I brought my reusable bags. We’re a family of five and if it were 10 cents a bag we’d be throwing away dollars every month. I’d also like to know where the dimes would go. I’d like to think the money would go to public works for sewer treatment or for road maintenance.

The last point, I really don’t think it’s going to drive people out of the city to buy groceries. That argument is silly. In most cases it will cost more money to drive out of town. It’s like the argument people make about saving the 6% sales tax by going to New Hampshire. Unless you’re dropping thousands it isn’t worth the drive. If that’s even legal?

I guess to sum up my rant, if the bag “tax” passes, where is the money going?

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