Thursday, February 4, 2010

DC Bag Fee Report – Great Tips for Other Cities!

Officially referred to as “Skip the Bag, Save the River”, Washington DC’s bag “ban” – actually a $0.05 fee per shopping bag…paper OR plastic – went into effect one month ago and Julie Lawson, the DC "Capital" Surfrider Chapter Chair provided this recent update:

“…news stories have been covering the results. Most of the articles have a negative slant ("oh, what a hassle this is! oh, how confusing!") but they also readily report that it's working. Working beyond any of our expectations.

In only three weeks of the five-cent fee, demand for bags at grocery stores dropped 50-60 percent!

Reports from our members indicate that most cashiers have been well trained--and if that's not the case, members have been educating them. ;) Personally I have yet to pay the fee since I always have several cloth bags on me, but I've been pleased to hear cashiers ask "Do you need a bag?" before every transaction, rather than just bagging automatically. Signs about it are posted everywhere, and I definitely see more people carrying reusable bags than plastic. Public opinion on blogs and community sites has definitely turned in support. We're monitoring the implementation process and look forward to seeing the receipts from the businesses hopefully around the end of the month.”

The bottom line is that a simple, minuscule charge for any bag can hopscotch the EIR lawsuits that California is dealing with, AND initiate a wholesale (no pun) change in shopper actions. NICE ONE JULIE AND DC!!

Following are a few links about the DC effort’s progress – lots of good info on what works and where the friction may manifest itself upon taking an action like this – great for planning your own action:

1) The official Washington DC government “Skip the Bag, Save the River” bag fee site, explaining the particulars of the fee and where the money goes.

2) Washington Post article detailing the new phenomenon of “parking lot jugglers”!

3) Wall Street Journal article listing fringe business gripes about just which establishments should be charging the fee. These kinds of early adjustments can be expected for any type of positive change like this. Processes will change to adapt and all will be well...aahhhhhh... :)

4) Finally, even our gravy-slurpin’ politicians are finding merit in the ban, by trying to suck more money (can you say: $25/”free” bag) out of the electorate!