We Now Have to Pay 5 Cents Per Bag…

And I’ve already gotten suckered into it TWICE on opening day! (This new tax went into effect Sunday, the 1st of the year. Kinda like my free Wendy frosties too, only that one doesn’t require me to bring my own cups!) Jeesh… I remember when the bag trend hit DC a cple years back, where everyone was charged a few pennies every time they needed a bag from a convenience store (or as luck would have it for me, Subway), and it seems now it’s hit the great state of Maryland too.  Which is good and bad…

Good, because obviously we’re trying to save the environment here and many of us like nabbing those bags left and right without a care in the world (or at least I did used to ), but bad cuz now it’s costing us every time we do it!  And double when you extra bag it for those milks and other heavy items at the grocery store – quickly making your total add up. (I think on our last trip we used like 25 plastic bags, which would have come out to what?  $1.25?).  But you add in trips to 7-Eleven or Subway, or any other place you buy things at that normally require a bag, and that $hit will pile up faster than you can say Al Gore. (See what I did there? :))

Of course, you can easily avoid these new fees too as long as you play by the rules.  But so far the only way I can figure it out is to fill your car w/ a dozen or so recyclable bags and then carry them in with you every time you dip into a store.  Effectively making you the newest bag lady on the block.  It’s def. not convenient, that’s for sure.  Though yes, I know, it’ll still save some trees and landfills.  Which I’m all for, believe me, I just need to figure out a smoother way of doing so.  And one that I’m not gonna forget every other shopping trip!

Has these fees hit any of your areas yet?  Are you already rockin’ those re-usable bags like it’s second nature? If so, I’d like to hear about your secrets. I need to whip myself into shape before I end up blowing hundreds of dollars a year off of something I used to get for free for the last 32 years – that’s one helluva habit! Help me save the environment AND my wallet, please!

PS: Also, what will you then use for trash can liners and dog poop picker uppers?  Do you know how empty our under-sinks are gonna be now? ;)

(Photo by normanack, who made my cat jealous)

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  1. Emma January 2, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Many shops in Australia charge for plastic bags now. Honestly – carrying a few canvas bags around when you want to go shopping is really not a big deal at all and considering the money you save and the good it does for the environment – it’s actually a bit sad that anyone would complain about it! Everyone will get used to it pretty quickly and hopefully plastic bags will disappear completely. Somethings are just more important.

  2. Lizzie January 2, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    Bags here are still free but the majority of shoppers, at least around here, take their re-usable bags. No plastic ones but proper heavy duty ones. Once you get used to putting them back in the boot after unloading your shopping it is actually pretty convenient because they are bigger and stronger.
    Good luck, you will get used to it and get a nice warm glow from not destroying the environment!

  3. Michelle January 2, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    I live in “another” county in MD – an honestly can’t wait until the “fee” comes to my town. (Mainly because many grocery stores give you a discount for using a reusable bag in DC) My strategy: a few nylon bags in my purse that tuck into an attached sack (they stuff down really small and are about as big as plastic bags) and some of the “stand up” reusables in my car for large grocery shops.

  4. sealz January 2, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    I actually live in DC and have lived with the bag tax for however long now…and its not that big of a deal. Canvas bags are much sturdier than those flimsy plastic ones, which means you don’t have to double bag. They also hold a lot more. I was using the canvas before the bag tax mostly because it made it easier to walk to and from the store.

    And sometimes? I find myself unexpectedly at a store. No big deal: five cents every month or so isn’t a big deal.

  5. cashflowmantra January 2, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    We have not seen any fees in our area yet. It sure seems like a decent idea to decrease the environmental impact.

  6. Daisy January 2, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Most Canadian stores charge five cents per bag. We have a ton of reusable bags, which are also a lot more convenient because they hold more, but we always forget them when we go grocery shopping.

  7. Diane January 2, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    t’s pretty common here in northern CA. My town doesn’t do it yet, but I always bring the reusable bags as they give you a “bag credit” if you do so – they pay me 5 cents a bag. Mostly I remember if I am shopping at my regular time, but sometimes I forget if I am shopping off hours. I always have the reusable bags in the trunk of my car.

  8. rosielovescajeta January 2, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Although my town in Northern California hasn’t enforced a plastic bag ban or tax, most people still bring in their own reusable bags to grocery stores (so much so, that most stores will ask you if you need a bag before they start to bag up your groceries). I’m pretty good about remembering my bags when I do my major grocery shopping for the week, but used to forget to bring a bag for the odd purchase (drugstore, convenience store, etc.). To change that, I clipped a ChicoBag to my key chain and now I’m never without a bag! If you’ve never heard of ChicoBag, I highly recommend their products. They’re compact and convenient!

  9. Natascha January 2, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    I’m from Germany and I can’t remember a time when there were no fees for shopping bags – paper or plastic – and the fees range from 15 to 40 cents. You can get pretty shopping bags that fit into their own little pocket for 2 € and I always have one in my purse. Also, it’s common that one has their own designated shopping bags or baskets when enetering the store. One company (Reisenthiel) that manufactures luggage etc. even started somewhat of a trend for grocery-shopping-baskets – pretty rpints, foldable etc. My mum even asked my to sew her some pretty shopping bags and some “manly” ones for my father.

  10. Brian January 2, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    No fees here yet, but the old lady and I have been using those reusable bags for a while. I have yet to actually pay for one of those bags yet as I seem to get the free from events I am already at (5k swag bags, car shows, alumni events, etc). The only hard part for us is remembering to but them back into our cars so we can use them the next shopping trip.

  11. CityFlips January 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    I’m not against having to carry your own bag. It makes a pretty big difference in the waste department. I’m not sure exactly how “green” it is, but evidently it makes a difference or else it wouldn’t have been put into practice in so many places. Most of Europe has been this way for some time. My sister made me a bunch of shopping bags out of my old t-shirts for Christmas. They are super cute! Plus I have a few of the ones that fold up teeny tiny. Those are the best in my opinion! I like it best when stores offer a 5 cent discount for using your own bag. It’s not much, but it makes me feel better about life. :)

  12. PKamp3 January 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    California did this too, haha. 10 cents per paper bag, as plastic is now banned from CA. Of course, the butcher still uses plastic, so we still have plastic bags coming i…, but now it’s time to get awkward and shop at different stores with the Target reusable bags!

  13. DB January 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Use the huge IKEA blue bags they sell for 59c each. You could probably fit all of your groceries into two lol

  14. Yana January 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    That’s pretty bad. Here in California, the grocery stores I use would pay the customer 5 cents per bag, but they changed that and instead have been donating the nickel to charity. I have a trunk full of bags that I rarely use, but I will be glad to use them if a charge is levied.

  15. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog January 2, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    We dont have fees like that where I live, and honestly I dont ever see that happening here. Way over the top if you ask me. I try to bring reuseable bags all the time, but sometimes I just forget.

  16. J. Money January 2, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    A couple things that have come to mind since posting this:

    1) I think this’ll be easier to accomplish as a woman, cuz y’all are already used to carrying around purses and bags! :) Not saying that to be sexist or anything, but just that it’s not as big of a deal probably for you as it is guys who only carry a wallet with them. And plus you have more room to squeeze in small bags and what not in there, yeah? Or do you hate me now for commenting this? :)

    2) I’m curious if anyone has read anything on the affects of GIVING BACK 5 cents when you bring a bag, over having to PAY 5 cents instead? I think having to pay would get more people to stop doing it, but I’d be interested to see if any research has been done on this or not already. Either way, I better get my act together!

    And seriously, what would you then use intead of all those plastic bags you save from all the grocery stores? Isn’t that good fo the environment too? Re-using those multiple times? (Though I guess it still adds more to the ground which isn’t good… so scratch that)

    @Emma – I really wish that will be the case, but again – def. hard to get into the habit of when you’re used to shopping w/ nothing in your hands. I don’t even know how women carry around purses! Haha… but I admire that they do :) I’ll get used to it of course over time, but I’m allowed to complain just like others can complain about whatever they want to about.
    @Lizzie – Thanks! I hope so too! :)
    @Michelle – Yeah, see – I think it’ll be a smoother change for women because they already carry things with them everywhere (purses, bags/etc). Which is great. The only thing I ever bring with me is my money clip and chapstick in my pockets – the idea of bringing in bags everytime freaks me out. But I think maybe keeping them in my trunk or something, so when I forget they’re right there for easy access, may work out okay. We’ll see!
    @sealz – True true, good point :)
    @cashflowmantra – I bet it spreads across the country. Which would be good ofcourse in the long run, but def. lots of getting used to.
    @Daisy – Yeah! I bet that happens to us too, haha… except we’re gonna keep them in the car just in case…
    @Diane – Cool! I wonder if it would get more people to do it if they got money BACK, rather than give more of it? Would be an interesting experiment :)
    @rosielovescajeta – ChicoBag? Okay! Will Google – thanks :)
    @Natascha – HAH! Very cool! I’d love to see what the “manly” ones look like :) Maybe I can get convinced more knowing I was rockin’ something smooth like that?
    @Brian – Nice man, glad you all are already used to it :)
    @CityFlips – Yeah, I def. wonder if that would get more people to do it, than charging them? Probably not, but would make for a great research paper (which I’m sure has been done before). Thanks for sharing!
    @PKamp3 – Haha… totally. I wonder if you bring your own stash of plastic Safeway bags, to Safeway, for example, if they’d still charge you? :) They’re not recyclable, but you’re not getting more bags!
    @DB – Ooooh now that’s an idea. Love Ikea too, haven’t been there in forever… are you trying to convinvce me to go shopping? Cuz it’s working ;)
    @Yana – Oh nice. Let me know if they ever implement it there :)
    @Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog – Interesting, interesting… you’re a minority it seems in this group of commenters today :) Thx for sharing your side!

  17. LB January 2, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Ha! The ikea bags are awesome! It surprising how much crap you can fit in those.

    We don’t have a tax on bags, but get $.05 back everytime we use them at certain stores. Only problem is places like Target who look like you lost your head when you ask why you didn’t get your $.05 off. Otherwise my farmers market type grocery store has always given me $.05 off per bag and usually has the cheaper fruit and vegetables!

    I would recommend the Rachel Ray insulated grocery bags. Those things rock and you can be out longer because they keep things nice and cold :)

  18. Emily January 2, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Do they charge for paper bags, too? I’ve heard they are actually more expensive.

  19. Bergie Powers January 2, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Wisconsin does not have those laws yet, but hubby and I have been trying for years to get into the habit of bringing our own bags to the store. Years! We keep canvas bags in the trunk of our car, and maybe 10% of the time actually remember to bring them into a store with us. We tried leaving them in the backseat of the car instead of the trunk (the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing) and that did not make a bit of difference. Over the years, however, we have remembered more often. Like when we first started, we maybe remembered 5% of the time. Maybe this year we’ll remember 15% of the time.
    I also wonder where our future tiny garbage liners will come from. We will probably just buy them, and in that case, does is just turn into an ‘a horse a piece’ thing? We will still be using the same amount of plastic bags, just in a different form.
    I do, however, almost always remember a canvas bag when I go to Aldi. Mostly because their weird shopping cart system freaks me out and I use my canvas bags like a shopping basket in the store. But they do charge for plastic bags at Aldi.

  20. JMK January 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Canadian here. Every grocery store I regularly go to charges 5 cents for a plastic bag and has for several years. I don’t think all drugstores and department stores have started that yet, but I could be wrong.
    We don’t personnally use reuseable bags normally – the thought of meat or milk leaking and starting some sort of growth in them is just gross. I suspect most people don’t wash their grocery bags nearly enough, if ever. If you want to use bags I’d recommend cloth not that heavy vinyl, so they can just be run through the laundry.
    Many grocery store chains sell small stackable hard plastic bins. We have 5, plus 1 cloth bag in case we have an extra large/bulky grocery order one week. The baskets are about 12′ wide, 18′ long and 12′ deep. They have handles moulded into the ends and also heavy woven strap handles on the sides so you can carry them either way. The various stores in our area that offer these baskets also have carts designed to hold them so you do your shopping right into them and at the checkout you can lift the entire basket onto the conveyor belt – no unloading 50 individual items. We try to have one empty bin when we arrive at the cash and then the cashier can scan each item from the full bin and place it into that bin. In the trunk on the way home, the bins keep everything upright – no having to repack the items that are rolling around the trunk. When we get home, using the strap handles, we can carry 2 bins at time to the kitchen. If anything leaked they get a wash in the laudry tub and then they are set at the front door to go back to the trunk the next time we go out.

  21. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving January 2, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    They’re doing this in Portland too. It sucks, but it is better for the environment…unless everybody just pays the fees, then it’s better for the stores. It all adds up!

  22. Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life January 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    We keep our reusable bags in the trunk–most of them in my husband’s car, since he does most of the grocery shopping, but a few in mine for when I need them. They are WAY easier to use than plastic bags–they can hold more items and are more sturdy. Yesterday I was able to get a week’s worth of groceries into three bags and carry them all upstairs in one trip! It took a while to get in the habit of using them, and occasionally we have to run back out to the car to get them, but I would not go back to plastic.

    That said, somehow we still manage to end up with lots of plastic bags under our sink. I think many of them come from other people (usually my mom) giving us things in plastic bags, plus the occasional time we go somewhere without our reusable bags.

  23. Fern January 2, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I’m used to this – because I’m cheap and shop at Aldi’s.

    I saved all grocery bags for a while from other stores. Rolled up, 6 or 7 of them fit in the tube from paper towels/aluminum foil. One or two paper towel rolls stay VERY neatly in the car at all times, in one small cloth shopping bag.

  24. Ashley @ Money Talks January 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    I hate the idea of this fee. They aren’t doing it here in AZ yet but I’m sure it’s coming at some point. Probably not soon, but eventually. If I want to save the environment I’ll do on my own time and I don’t need the government telling me what type of bag I can use.

    I reuse all my plastic shopping bags for dog poop so this fee would only going to cost me money and not save one single bag from going in the trash. I won’t appreciate it when the bag fee comes to town.

  25. Frugal Babe January 2, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Our favorite grocery store stopped having any sort of paper or plastic bags a few years ago, so we quickly got in the habit of always taking our bags in with us (the only other option is to use boxes that they have available – the ones that food comes to the store in). I also keep a very compact mesh bag in my purse (it came with something else in it – vacuum parts maybe?) and use that if I’m at a non-grocery store.
    My MIL saves the bags her newspapers come in, and we use those to pick up after the dog.
    We never use bags to line our little trash cans in the bathrooms. We just dump them out into the big trash can once a week, and wash them out every few times. No problem.
    We also reuse our large trash bag for several weeks at a time too. We keep a large trashbag in our trashcan and then just dump the contents out into our curbside trash can on trash day. We only dump the whole bag maybe once every two months – whenever it’s wet or sticky or otherwise gross. But we use cloth diapers and compost all of our food scraps and recycle everything we can, so there’s not usually anything gross in our trashcan.
    Can you tell I’m all about minimizing our use of plastic? :)

  26. Naps Happen January 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I managed to make the switch to cloth bags years ago (I live in VA) by finally obtaining some bags from http://www.envirosax.com that rolled up into a tiny bundle (with a snap) and stowed easily in pockets and bags. I put those bags everywhere! That way, you always have one handy. Plus, they can be washed (avoiding the germ gross-out). I now use a combo of store reusables, canvas bags, and the little roll-up ones. I figured out years ago I had saved thousands upon thousands of bags – just by changing my own habits. Of course you have to pay for the bags upfront, but at least you can achieve those environmental benefits.

  27. Jean January 2, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    No fees here. My biggest concern re: this post is the can liner/dog poop thing. Maybe I’ll just buy packages of plastic bags then? Or go to something “greener” – i.e. biodegradable bags? Hm. Need to look into that …

  28. @MoneyPerk January 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Wow, i’ve never heard of fees for plastic bags! That is just crazy to me. If corporates are going to charge for bag fees they should just get rid of them already and encourage others to use reusable ones! That is just insanity to me to charge for useless plastic. I’ve been using reusable bags for over a year now. It is more of a hassle to use them, but since we will soon be charged for using plastic ones just makes even that more important to use reusable ones.

  29. ashley January 2, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I was so glad when Toronto started charging for bags.

    I keep at least one foldable one in my purse and my mum keeps a ton in her car. The cloth ones hold way more than plastic bags anyways and you can just toss them in the wash when they get dirty.

    We definitely do still end up purchasing a few bags a week and that’s enough for our green bin in the kitchen. For the dog though, I pick up those little bags that attach to their leash. The bags are bio-degradable too and only cost about a dollar a roll. I probably buy three rolls a year.

  30. retirebyforty January 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Portland banned plastic bags last year. Now we have to bring our own bags or use the paper bags. One store gives a 5c refund per bag if you bring your own.

  31. Maria Nedeva January 2, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    We have been doing this around here (the UK) for several years now. And now that you mentioned ‘bag lady’ I have one of these bags on wheels. Hubby refuses to come shopping with me if I take it but hey – it saves me carrying heavy stuff, going to a large supermarket and I can have this ‘f off’ look about me as a bunus.

    To pull this off you also need to plan shopping trips – none of this ‘I am just going out for a pint of milk and coming back with a house’ things.

  32. Jenn January 2, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    I’m in your county, J$, and am mostly bummed that I won’t be getting 30 cents off my grocery orders now for using reusable bags.

    I will miss the Target plastic bags that I reuse for lining small trash cans, and the Trader Joe’s paper bags that I reuse until they fall apart for collecting my recycling.

  33. Edward Antrobus January 2, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    The real question is, will stores still offer the 5 cent/bag discount for using reusable bags? Then you are saving 10 cents per bag.

    The other issue is actually enforcement. I use resuable bags when I can/remember and our store is supposed to give us 5 cents/bag but half the time the cashier doesn’t ring it up. I’m not going to make a fuss over a quarter, but who gets in trouble when the minimum wage high-schooler doesn’t charge you for the bags?

    I do use reusable bags, but I do have two problems with them. First is Subway. We eat there…too much. And half the time, the sauce (I love my sweet onion!) soaks through the paper wrapping. Imagine having to wash those bags a couple times a week!

    The other issue is, frankly, I can’t afford as many as I need. We do most of our grocery shopping once a month, getting additional produce, bread as we need it. But dry goods, cans, meat, and frozen veggies, which are the bulk of our shopping, are once a month. We use about 20 bags. Those bags cost $10 a pop! Even at a 5 cent per plastic bag fee and 5 cent per reusable bag reward, it would take 100 shopping trips just to recoup the cost of the bag. That means, it would take 8 years to pay back the extra $150 I would need to invest to go plastic bag free.

  34. Melissa January 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    I live in CA and have been using reusable bags for a long while, but it took a while to train myself. Luckily I did it before we got hit with the fee!
    My trick is to use the back of the car seat pocket to store my bags. Once I unload them in the house, I put them with my keys to go back out to the car next trip. When I was learning the practice, someone gave me the bright idea to write it at the top of the shopping list, which I always review in the car before heading into the store!
    Now that I’m in the habit, I use them everywhere. And I still find I have enough other plastic bags coming in to the house. You can use a bread bag from sliced sandwich bread for dog cleanup, etc… Besides, I think the bags multiply in the dark under my sink!
    You’ll get in the practice soon! Especially when it costs you money. Think back to your plastic water bottle habit…

  35. J. Money January 2, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    @LB – Okay cool, it’s going on my list – thx :)
    @Emily – Yes, I believe so, but I think they’re the same price?
    @Bergie Powers – Exactly!! We need those plastic bags any ways, so why not recycle the ones that are already in rotation? Maybe someone will come up with trash cans that eat all your trash and it magically goes away, haha… good job on your % increase by the way, your bag usage went up 300%! :)
    @JMK – Oooh, well that’s nice! I like not having to unload, and load back up, all over the place :) And good point on the washing of the bags too, haven’t even thought about that, jeesh… this is a whole new world to me.
    @Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – Not in our community – the fees go directly to the county/state I believe. Which is something the stores are making a point of telling us about so we don’t get pissed at THEM I suppose, haha…
    @Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life – Haha, well at least that supply will remain solid for a while :) Thx for stopping by so much, friend! I like seeing you here.
    @Fern – Huh. That’s pretty clever! Stays in one spot too w/out cluttering the whole trunk. I like that, thanks :)
    @Ashley @ Money Talks – I hear ya! Thanks for voicing your concerns among anti-baggers on this thread too ;) I don’t know what we’d do instead of bags for poop picker uppers and trashcan liners – it’s a tricky one.
    @Frugal Babe – Wow, yeah no kidding! Haha… that’s pretty impressive :) It would require me to change out most of my small trash cans around the house since they have wholes in them, haha, but I like the idea of just “dumping and going” like that. Esp with the bigger trash can… though our sanitary workers will be pretty pissed if I just dump it all into the big boy trash can outside for them to dump – they require everything in bags so it doesn’t fall all over them place when they’re dumping… makes sense, but not so good on your anti-plastic bag mission :) Thx for sharing it all with us!
    @Naps Happen – Woahhhh, designer bags!! I like them!! Pretty girly, but def. sexy :) Know of any “man” ones? Haha…
    @Jean – Yup, that’s the question of the day. Tricky one.
    @@MoneyPerk – Well, they do say use re-usable bags instead, and that’s why they’re charging us now for the crap plastic ones – so we’d get upset and make the switch. And not sure about other areas, but this one’s collecting the money to do good w/ it, rather than them going to the stores. They keep making it a point to tell me they do *not* get any of it ;)
    @ashley – Oh! Well that solves that part, haha… biodegradble is awesome! (Can you tell I don’t have a dog?)
    @retirebyforty – I’d be more inclined to bring my own bag if I got a credit, as sad as that sounds ;)
    @Maria Nedeva – Haha, you have just become much more awesome in my books :) The “F off” look – genius!
    @Jenn – Oh cool! Didn’t know you were here with me :) You used to get credits for bringing in bags? I never knew that? Guess that went away now? Sucky… at least you’re already in habit though :)
    @Edward Antrobus – Wow, that’s some good number crunching there! Haha… you’re always digging into the details, my man :) And I dont’t know what happens when the cashiers forget to charge – guess you get away with it? We’ll have to see as time goes on…
    @Melissa – YEAH! Great idea, I like that!! (Both writing it on the list AND keeping ’em in the back pockets of the seats – Brilliant!) And unfortunately I haven’t mastered my water bottle habit either, I’m afraid. I did switch to bigger jugs at one point, but after a month I drank almost 95% less water and it wasn’t working out. Now though we’re thinking of getting an ice maker/water dispenser in our new fridge which will be filtered and then REALLY help cut down on that! At least in the house, where I drink them the most… I’ll still use them when going on walks, but that’s only a sliver of the time, and only in 2 of the 4 seasons ;) Thanks for all the great tips!

  36. Weirdo @ SoLongStatusQuo.com January 3, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    My wife and I shop at Aldi about 90% of the time. We have quite a bundle of Aldo bags. We could probably sell most of them for $0.03/bag and make some money! However, we do use bags from Walgreens, Wal-Mart and all those other Wals to clean the litter boxes of our three over-eating cats.

    I haven’t heard of anything happening here in the St. Louis area, but we will keep you informed.

  37. Stacey January 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    You will get used to it. I live in SoDakland – which will probably be the last place on earth to do any kind of plastic bag “ban” but I’ve been using my own bags for groceries forever… it does become habit, and like previous posters said, many other types of bags come into your house for other uses (bread bags, fruit bags, etc.) I try not to ever take a bag at a store because to me, it’s just a waste. Why should a cashier put a pack of gum and shampoo into a bag for me to walk 50 feet to my car with it when I can carry it to my car and then into my house when I get home? It’s just stupid in my book. Same with groceries. Why would anyone want to continue to bring all that plastic waste into their home when reusable bags can be used instead? My reusable grocery bags are used all the time by my three kids for various things – toting sunscreen and towels to the pool, hauling their box of crayons and coloring books to the car for an out of town trip, etc. and they still end up on the hook by the back door and grabbed for grocery store runs. It really is a great system!

  38. Stephanie January 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    No fees here in NJ. But our local Shoprite gives a 5 cent discount for every reusable bag you bring. I love those things, they’re so much sturdier than plastic, easier to carry than paper, and they save us money! But once in awhile we DO deliberately leave them behind, because the plastic bags are the perfect size for dirty bedding from our rodents’ cages, and they make great bags for the trash can in the bathroom. I’d be pretty bummed if they do start taxing us for plastic bags, because as rarely as I use them, reusing them as garbage bags is a lot cheaper than buying garbage bags. :-P

  39. J. Money January 3, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    @Weirdo @ SoLongStatusQuo.com – Oh man, totally forgot about that! We use ours for cat litter boxes too!! I just did it like 15 mins ago, haha… (why didn’t I think of that before?)
    @Stacey – Well I like the sound of it all, that’s for sure. We’ll see how much my habits change with all this! :)
    @Stephanie – Yeah, even if I get really into re-usable bags and all that, I imagine I’ll have to pay the fee here and there to keep stocking up on bags for kitty litter/trash cans/etc. But at least it would only be 5% of the time, over 100% it is now :)

  40. amanda January 3, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Luckily we haven’t yet, but it’s been brought up. I just think it’s such a pain in the a$$, basically for all the reasons you mentioned. Sometimes I plan to just run in for a few things, but end up getting a cartful, so do I carry ten bags in with me every time just in case? Or do I take one, then make them hold my basket or hold up the line if I need to run out and get my other bags?

    Also, this seems like a way to make it much easier to shoplift. I’m surprised stores haven’t had increased problems with this. Most stores don’t check your receipt & items at the door, so someone could walk in with a reusable bag and walk out with a bagful. So add that to the cost of doing business for stores if more theft occurs which =s increased prices…

    And if I’m going to get charged at stores to “save the environment”, then they need to use the money to build up a good recycling program in the city. Recycling here in Texas is laughable. I live in a suburb of Houston which has ONLY paper recyling that you have to drop off. It used to have one huge thing for plastic & metals overflowing each week, but they got rid of that because it was too expensive to pay for the pick up. Paper recycling only is pretty much the standard throughout the city.

  41. Matt January 3, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    If there is an Aldi near by you could double up on your savings. It is a self serve type grocery store where you bag your own groceries. They have plenty of empty small cardboard boxes you can put your purchases in, the only downfall is if you are hooked on name brand foods or they may not have everything you are there for… but they generally have all the major food items.

    But seriously, who can beat $1.99/lb pork roasts?

  42. Amanda Bee January 3, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Here bags are still free, but retailers often give a small discount for bringing your own. Plus places like Aldi charge for the bags, though you can usually steal shelf boxes instead if you forget yours.

    I don’t really see the big deal though. I take bags occasionally for kitty poop scooping, but I could easily do without them by just dumping poo in the trash as it goes out the door or using leftover paper bags, boxes, or containers from stuff I’ve bought. It’s not that hard to remember to carry bags when you go shopping,and theoretically it could reduce impulse buying by forcing you to plan out your shopping trips. Also, a lot of one-or-two item purchases you can just carry out in your hands. If you just run in for milk or a thing of bananas, no need to get a whole bag for them.

  43. Shannon January 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Wow, I didn’t realize there were places still that didn’t have bag fees! I can’t remember how long Canada (or at least Ontario) has had this trend. Luckily both our moms have trunk fulls of the reusable bags so we’re prepared, and if I’m really looking to save that 5 cents, I’m usually clver enough to find a way to carry the bag of milk, 2 cartons of chocolate milk, sleeve of cookies and all the other junk I buy when I run across the street on a munchies run.

  44. Christine January 3, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    I’ve been using reusable bags for a while now and I love them! It’s just forming a new habit like anything else. Toss a few into your car, keep one in your purse when you shop and that’s it. Then you don’t get so many piles of grocery bags in your place too. The best thing to do is to get different varieties of bags, in different shapes and sizes and purposes. Some for grocery shopping, some that fold up all small for shopping, and then others for just lugging around stuff. I’ve gotten half of mine for free, just keep a look out at events. If I’m not carrying a large purse I just use the bag as a tote instead.

  45. Kylie Ofiu January 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    A lot of people use reusable bags here, but some states have banned plastic bags completely, so you have no choice but to buy and use reusable bags. Some of the stores I shop at have never free bags.

    What they did here though was gradually decrease the strength of the bags, so by the time they stopped providing them, most people hated them as they were useless for more than 1 – 2 items, so people were already using their own bags.

  46. Jeffrey Trull January 3, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    There are no fees where I live yet, although I wish there were. Yes, I am a reusable bag person! I hate plastic bags, and I usually do everything I can to avoid getting them. My strategy is simply to not take a bag unless I need one. I definitely don’t when I’m just getting a couple things. Other than that, I do my best always just remember to bring bags. It gets a lot easier once you’re used to it!

  47. Dannielle @ Odd Cents January 4, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    I can’t see this happening in Barbados anytime soon…. people down here love plastic bags. If the supermarkets were more forceful about reusable bags, it would probably catch on. If *someone* had to tell them how much they could save by getting customers to bring their own bags, I bet they would get on the bandwagon fast enough…

  48. J. Money January 4, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    @amanda – Huh. Hadn’t thought about the shoplifing aspect yet, that’s pretty interesting… I wonder if it has increased? And if they’d publish it if it had ;) Thanks for sharing it.
    @Matt – Haha… I don’t know if there’s one nearby actually. I know I’ve seen them before, but I think from all my traveling. I’ll have to keep my eyes open more and pop in if I come across one :)
    @Amanda Bee – Oh yeah, I’m a big fan of just pocketing a cple small things than get a bag and all that. I’m getting good at that one :)
    @Shannon – Hah! Really? I think you’d beat me there — I’m pretty clumsy ;)
    @Christine – If only men were used to carrying purses! :)
    @Kylie Ofiu – Hah! Sneaky, I like it. Would probably be better that they just ban them completely so we have no choice but to adapt, but I’ll take the small steps anyday ;)
    @Jeffrey Trull – Yeah, I’ll be sucking up and going for it for sure… just not at the top of my fun list, haha… glad you’ve gotten good and used to it though :)
    @Dannielle @ Odd Cents – I love that you’re in Barbados :) And I’m pretty sure I tell you that like every time you comment here, haha… sorry.

  49. Heather January 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    As far as I know in South Carolina they aren’t charging this fee, but SC is about 50 years behind in the times anyway. I always bring 3 or 4 reusable grocery bags with me. They carry more groceries and it’s much easier for me to carry the groceries into the house with 4 solid reusable bags than 20 little plastic bags. And it’s better for the environment. I’m a lactose-intolerant vegetarian (in other words, I’m forced into being a vegan) and part of my reasoning behind being a vegetarian is the environment, so if you talk the talk, you better walk the walk!

  50. Cynthia January 5, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    Ehh I was living in New Zealand when they started charging for plastic and now I live in Seattle (also anti-plastic). It’s not a big deal, just get some cloth bags and keep a wad of them in your trunk. Bring them with you when you go into the store (everyone else will have their own wad, so it’s not a big deal) – put the bags back into the car the next day when you leave.
    In New Zealand, you can buy $1 or $2 bags at many places with the money going to a charity (tax write off!).

  51. Serena January 5, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    I’m in Montgomery County here in MD, and I have been hit with this fee a couple times (since Jan 1st) where I forgot to take the bags in. I took them inside when I went to Trader Joe’s, but–!!!!!–who thinks of taking reusable bags into HOME DEPOT??? Grrrr…..I think the tips of keeping some really compact ones in your purse is a good idea. And then, when you’re done with them, hang them on the front door knob. When you’re leaving, you’ll have no choice but to remember to take them back to your car and/or to your purse (if you’re a woman. Or, hahahah, a man who carries a purse, LOL). That is what I am going to do as a reminder.

  52. Holly January 6, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    We do not have a plastic bag regulation here in my town in central California. We do get reimbursed per bag for not using plastic bags at some stores though. I don’t know if and when we will get a plastic bag regulation here. I still manage to use my cloth bags most of the time.

  53. J. Money January 6, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    @Heather – Haha, I love South Carolina though. So beautiful! Esp those old unique homes?? Oh man, I could live in one of those in a heart beat.
    @Cynthia – Yeah. It’s funny, I forgot again yesterday while at Target, and I didn’t see ANYONE carrying bags around with them. Not even in their carts… I’m wondering how long it’ll take for all of us to get our act together :)
    @Serena – I need someone to buy me a Merse ;)
    @Holly – You’re better than I am :) At least it’s on my mind now, though!

  54. Ken @ The Debt Diaries January 9, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Hi J.Money, I have to say I feel your pain. I live in Ireland where there is the tax on plastic bags here is 22c ( about 29c US) so forgetting to bring your reusable grocery bags, which can cost anywhere up to €2 per bag can be a real pain. If this happens, I generally look around for small empty produce boxes which also turns out to be a lot easier to carry items out of the store

    Fortunately, the tax is waived on bags for items such as loose fruit and veg, so after using them to carry these items, I like to keep them handy for poop scooping.

  55. Melissa January 9, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Haha, first, I think you’re pretty grossly exaggerating the amount you’ll spend on these bags! :P

    In Toronto we’ve had the plastic bag fee for a few years now, and now we don’t even think about it. It honestly didn’t take much to break the habit, and in fact, I prefer the reusable bags because the hold more, and they’re easier to carry (since I walk to and from the grocery store). I often have a small resuable tote bag with me (in my purse) for smaller items, and then just bring the larger ones with me to the grocery store. My mom keeps them in the trunk of her car. I know people were pretty outraged when it first started, but honestly, in no time, nobody cared. And when I forget the bags, I just pay the five cents, since I use the plastic ones to scoop my cat’s litter anyway.

  56. J. Money January 10, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    @Ken @ The Debt Diaries – Haha, there you go! I guess you just get super crafty when the rules change ;) Thanks for sharing, man.
    @Melissa – Yeah, you’re probably right. I slipped again on my last trip to the store (though I still don’t have any reusable bags yet either), and just paid the 10 cents for the 2 bags. Not the end of the world, but it’s def. gonna take some getting used to. Glad you’re more on top of it now! :)

  57. nursedragon February 24, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    I make super-strong waterproof carrier bags by recycling the 50lb bags my dog’s food comes in. The stuff they are made from is bomb-proof. I get at least 2 bags made from each one. I use nylon webbing for the handles.

  58. J. Money February 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Hah! I like it!! Those things are DEF strong :) Good find!