Shopping bag tax could bring positive results
Paper, plastic or reusable? As the nation continues to demand more environmentally conscious automobiles, voters in Seattle will vote on another important aspect of everyday life.
In August, voters will decide whether to place a 20-cent charge on paper and plastic shopping bags, according to The New York Times. There have been similar proposals in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, among others.
While a 20-cent charge might be a little high, a 10-cent fee on shopping bags could yield many positive results, including generating government revenue and improving the environment.
Kristen M. Daum
Imposing a fee for shopping bags is not unheard of. It is done all over Europe. Consumers generally carry a reusable bag and fill it up with groceries.
Granted, circumstances are somewhat different overseas — they purchase less food with each visit and shopping centers are located closer to home, many times within walking distance.
Opting to carry a reusable bag could sacrifice convenience if shoppers stick to buying groceries in bulk. But changing shopping habits, such as purchasing only necessary food, will reduce both food and environmental waste.
The one thing consumers might have a hard time stomaching is the concept of a tax during these economic times. Nobody wants pay for something they used to receive for free. Such a fee would be so minimal that most people would probably pay it anyway despite initial gripes. The returns for the government would be significant, which could then be recycled to improve green energy programs and projects.
It would pay to buy a reusable bag in case a tax is instituted. but the problem with environmentally friendly measures, whether it’s investing in alternative energy or purchasing a cheap reusable shopping bag, is people are reluctant to swallow the higher initial costs. In the long run, though, many environmentally conscious efforts cut expenses.
Because many people probably would rather pay the small fee than alter their shopping routine, the positive environmental effects would be limited. Some change might occur, but ultimately the biggest gains would be made on the tax revenue side. Although many people would hope such a measure is implemented for purely environmental reasons, good still can come from the government collecting money that will not hurt the individual consumer’s bottom line.
The tax could, however, lead to a snowball effect in which other everyday items and processes are taxed. It is unlikely, but it opens the door for asking, “Why not?”
People shouldn’t fear such a tax coming to Michigan. This state is the owner of the nation’s worst economy, and a fee of any kind would meet tremendous opposition because of the political nature of a tax.
Taxation is a polarizing issue, and political parties would likely try to position themselves in a way that is appealing to its constituencies’ ideals.
This is not an altogether bad thing, as these politicians are chosen to represent the people who elected them. But it’s difficult to disagree that this state needs money, and a minor 10-cent fee will not put a family on welfare.