Much ado about bags

In the S.F. Chronicle this morning C.W. Nevius tells us of a new move by Supervisors to encourage reusable bags in grocery stores. Current law in the City bans plastic bags in grocery stores and requires the stores to provide paper bags. All the stores I’ve seen offer inexpensive reusable bags for sale and encourage shoppers to use these by offering a nickel off the grocery bill for people who don’t require a paper bag. Unfortunately, this still hasn’t persuaded the majority of shoppers to use the reusable ones. Now Supervisor Mirkarimi has suggested that grocery stores be required to pay shoppers ten cents if they don’t require the paper bags. Maybe this would work, but it would mean more costs for grocers, who would pass it on to all shoppers, even those of us who carry our own bags. A more effective system, as Nevius points out, would be a small fee for people who don’t bring their own bag, but this is forbidden by law in San Francisco. Let’s repeal that law and get the city moving toward eliminating one-use bags whether plastic or paper. It’s remarkable what changes in behavior even a small fee can bring.

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