Posts tagged ‘bagless nu’

The Economic Impact of Washington D.C. Bag Fee

The economic impact of the bag fee in Washington D.C.  is disputed.  A study by The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated, using an economic model, that if all other factors remain constant, the bag fee will eliminate 101 jobs in the area and a loss of $602,000 of investment, mostly in the retail industry. These losses will also reduce sales tax revenue and offset the revenue gained from the fee, which will ,over time, decrease.  The study reasons that the negative economic impacts will occur due to consumers shopping outside of Washington D.C. and by reallocating some income to the fee which they would have spent on other items.[1]
Proponents of the fee argue that empirical data shows that the model’s predictions are false. In a survey of business owners in Washington D.C. only 12% reported a negative impact on their business while, 78% reported a beneficial or neutral impact.[2] In addition the model is built on a standard model of sales tax increase, which does not accurately reflect the nature of the bag fee.  The bag fee is avoidable, unlike a tax[3], so consumers have a third option.  Instead of spending income on the fee or shopping elsewhere, as the model argues, consumers can also make a one-time purchase of a reusable bag and incur no further extra cost. In addition the model fails to take into account the economic benefits to business, including the reduced cost of buying and storing bags, and the value of the environmental benefits.[4]  This would indicate that the model overestimated the net negative impact of the fee and a net positive impact cannot be ruled out.

[1] The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University. The Impact of Bill 18-150 on the Economy of Washington, D.C.. : The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, 2011. http://www.atr.org/files/files/DCBagTaxStudy.pdf., pg. 4
[2]ontgomery County, Maryland . “Leggett Proposes Five-cent Charge on Paper, Plastic Carryout Bags Provided by Retailers to Encourage Use of Reusable Carryout Bags, Enhance the Environment; Funds Dedicated to Water Quality Protection.” http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=7374.
[3]Kizler, Josh. “Update: The efficacy of Washington, D.C.’s bag fee.” Plastic Bag Laws. Accessed May 12, 2011. http://plasticbaglaws.org/update-the-efficacy-of-washington-d-c-’s-bag-fee/#_edn11.
[4]Brown, Josh. “Bag surcharge a detriment to D.C., study says.” Washington Times, February 10, 2011.

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May 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm Leave a comment

Royal Wedding, Royal Mess?

by Alix Hallen

This will be a short blog post, but I just wanted to share my experience hosting a small royal wedding watch party. Although it might have been easier and what I would have done before the no impact challenge, I chose to use all reusable items. Hosting people, whether its two or twenty is often a hassle and it is easier to just throw everything out at the end of the party (especially when it is at 3 in the morning).

But I resisted the urge and used all of my reusable dishes and cups and utensils. So my challenge to you is; when hosting a party think twice about what you serve your guests on. Although it may be more clean up for you, it is better in the long run to host a sustainable party!

April 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

“To Go” is a No Go

by Meghan Cavanaugh

This morning, like usual, I went to Norbucks to get my daily caffeine fix.  As I stood patiently waiting in line (reuseable mug in hand) I eyed the pastries behind the glass container.  By their looks alone I am generally consumed with tasty thoughts of the glistening chocolate on the cookies or the perfectly coated frosting on the lemon pound cake.  It is the eternal question for me before the barista asks my drink order:  To purchase a pastry or not to purchase a pastry…?  However, to my surprise I found the delectable treats not so perfectly incased behind the glass.  Instead, I found them wrapped in that pesky material: plastic wrap.  My heart dropped.  My first thoughts were that some sort of new school mandatory was now forcing the goods to be wrapped in the plastic for sanitary reasons.  Do we honestly need our food so incased when we will most likely be consuming that blueberry muffin within 10 to 15 minutes of purchasing it?

At this point my curiosity had peaked and I asked the woman at the counter why all the pastries were covered in saran wrap.  She responded that the usual Starbucks bags had not arrived, but they should be here soon.  Somewhat relieved that Northwestern had not placed some new health standard on food service, I also wondered why we need the bag at all or furthermore the plastic.  I suppose the bag is convenient for the on the go, but Norbucks also does not serve anything “for here.”  If they did I believe that pastry bag and coffee cup “to go” consumption would likely drop substantially.  Most students buy their pastry and coffee and sit around on the Norbucks couches and tables chatting and doing work anyway.  Why can’t they drink their coffee in a mug or eat their pastry on a plate?  This is just one more way that we could cut down on the single-use-item consumption that dominates our daily lives.

April 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm 1 comment


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