General Question

emilyrose's avatar

If there were a fee on grocery bags would it cause you to bring your own bags to the store? How high would the fee have to be in order for you to change your habits?

Asked by emilyrose (2269points) June 13th, 2008

The state of CA is currently considering a bill that would place a fee on grocery bags similar to how its done in Europe. Ireland is a good model. In Ireland about 95% of people bring their own bags to the store. The per bag price is about 30 cents per bag I believe.

If you had to pay 5 cents for every bag at the register would you pay it or would you start to bring your own bags? What if it was 25 cents? 50 cents? a dollar? How high would the price have to be for you to want to start a new habit of bringing your own bags?

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30 Answers

crunchaweezy's avatar

After 25 cents I think i’d bring my own.

At 5 cents most people would ignore it, and just think of it as another fee like cell providers charge (911 fee, government , etc)

waterskier2007's avatar

if it was over 50 cents i would bring my own bags i think. but thats cus i barely shop so it wouldnt effect me much. i think if i were an adult and had to shop, or i liked to shop, 25 cents would cause me to bring my own bags

jrpowell's avatar

I ride my bike to the store and only buy what will fit in my messenger bag so I can’t really give a good answer. But I will try. I would say about 25 cents is when I would make the switch if I ever actually needed a bag from the store.

And some people in my house that do get bags from the store insist on paper. It is easier to reuse them as garbage bags.

wildflower's avatar

Where did those figures come from? Judging by the queue at the Tesco check out, it’s well more than 5% that buy bags. But it has had an effect. The flimsy thin bags are 17 cents and useless, so it makes sense to reuse the reusable ones that cost a bit more but can actually hold a carton of milk without breaking.

marinelife's avatar

I am happy to use them now with no fee.

What’s needed for me is a new invention. When the reusable bags first began appearing at stores, I bought one. My problem is that I have difficulty remembering to take the bag back out to the car so I have it the next time I got to the store. Right now, my reusable bag only makes it about every fourth trip to the store.

tekn0lust's avatar

Stores in my town now apply a five cent discount for every green bag you bring in. Wal-Mart is now selling canvas bags for $1, but they don’t apply any discount as far as I can tell. So we use our Wal-mart bags at the grocery store and so far we’ve paid for the bags. Now it’s all gravy.

emilyrose's avatar

@ Marina: Have you tried a chicobag or similar compact reusable bag? They are small enough that they are hard to forget. You can fit a couple in your purse or backpack, or keep them in the console of the car.

marinelife's avatar

@emilyrose I recently learned of the chico bag through Fluther. I will try one.

emilyrose's avatar

@ Marina… I thought you were in on that question!

marinelife's avatar

@emilyrose Looking back at the thread, it was in fact you who told me about them! It was a different context so I had not thought of them for groceries. Perhaps we need a question on all the possible uses for the chico bag if there has not been one.

jlm11f's avatar

Trader Joes charges for using their grocery bags. I forget how much though, but it definitely works because most of the customers I see there bring their own bags.

emilyrose's avatar

@Marina—that’s what I thought! Now I remember that you asked about traveling. I made the assumption that the number one use for the bags was for groceries, but you’re right, that might not be the first thing people think of.

@PnL—my Trader Joes doesn’t do that. Where do you live?

jlm11f's avatar

Ohio. what about you?

emilyrose's avatar

San Francisco. That’s cool that they do that there. I wonder why not everywhere! Would you mind telling me which city?

jlm11f's avatar

Check your PM I am surprised they don’t do it everywhere. that’s weird. i can’t remember for sure but i think they charge 50 cents/bag here.

emilyrose's avatar

Wow, that would be a lot!

marinelife's avatar

@emilyrose & pnl Be happy that you have Tarder Joe’s! There are none in Florida and I miss them terribly.

rowenaz's avatar

Geesh – I live in Connecticut and bring my own mis-matched canvas bags. Some stores give a discount, as if I care, but the main thing is that I don’t have all those annoying plastic grocery bags clogging up my home… why do they always seems to pack three tiny things in each bag? Gimme a break – I’d rather pack them myself, but then someone always complains behind me…. Go green, it’s not that hard.

Trustinglife's avatar

What I can add to the conversation is that the CoOp in Ashland, OR, where I used to live, recently added a small fee for bag use. I think it was 10 cents, and they instituted the change on Earth Day. Surprisingly, the rates of people bringing their own bags went up BIG time. So even though the fee was nominal, people got the message.

Personally, I always bring a bag. How I do it – for Marina or anyone else who has trouble remembering – after I unload groceries, I put my canvas bags by my keys, so I bring them out to my car the next time I drive. Then I keep the bags in the trunk, and before going into the grocery store I grab ‘em. Hope that helps.

monsoon's avatar

When I visited Austria one summer, we would go grocery shopping and they didn’t offer you bags, you had to bring your own. We were in a small town, but I think in bigger grocery stores in bigger cities they charged ten cents a bag. I guess that would have been more like 14 or 15 cents here.

Trustinglife's avatar

Wow, that would teach us to bring our own bags in a hurry!

zepoman's avatar

We use 1×2 x 1 foot rectangular plastic bins. Much faster to keep up with the cashier when packing your own groceries.

Bri_L's avatar

we use our own and places that used to give us looks now are excited when we do. I got some real nice ones at http://www.reusablebags.com they have all sorts of different ones. I thought Ireland’s move was amazing. In 2 weeks an approximate 90% drop. Those plastic bags are awful.

marinelife's avatar

@Trustinglife Great tip. Thanks.

Trustinglife's avatar

Thanks Marina – wasn’t sure if it was overkill to write all that.

lillady604332000's avatar

here in Illinois a food store called Aldi charges for bags. I think its around 5 cents for paper and 10 cents for plastic.

jlm11f's avatar

Aldi charges here too!!

okay and i went to trader joes yesterday and i must apologize. it seems they don’t give plastic grocery bags at all. they only give paper ones. which is probably why i always see people there with their own bags (gets harder to carry those paper ones i you have more than 2 of them

kraigparkinson's avatar

It’d just have to be a non-zero amount for me to force myself to buy my own re-usable bags. Hell, I feel bad enough about bringing new plastic bags home in the first place; it’s just plain waste.

that1mom's avatar

I would make some bags out of burlap or something and sew straps on them. YAY. New re-usable grocery bags! Homie don’t play the price increase game as high as gas prices are getting.

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