Posts tagged ‘evanston’

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., 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.”
[3]Kizler, Josh. “Update: The efficacy of Washington, D.C.’s bag fee.” Plastic Bag Laws. Accessed May 12, 2011.’s-bag-fee/#_edn11.
[4]Brown, Josh. “Bag surcharge a detriment to D.C., study says.” Washington Times, February 10, 2011.


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

Spring is in the air…and plastic bags, too

by Zach Glasser

Today it finally feels like spring in Evanston. After a week of bitter cold rain, it was nice to step out into the sunshine today on my way to the cafe. I may have spent my day indoors writing a paper, but at least I snagged a window seat.

As I looked longingly out onto the street (my staring became more and more frequent the longer I sat here), I noticed that, despite the warm weather today, there were no leaves on the trees. Now, I’m of the mindset that Evanston has the longest winters around, so that probably shouldn’t surprise me. What did surprise me, though was that instead of leaves in the trees, there were PLASTIC BAGS.

This is not a leaf. It is a bag.

Imagine my dismay to find this bag in the tree instead of leaves. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not what spring is all about. The epidemic of plastic bags in our cities couldn’t be more apparent when we start seeing things like this.

As I kept looking out the window, I saw more and more bags tangled in trees! I knew this was a phenomenon in some places, but I had just never noticed it here before. I was able to count no fewer than seven bags in four separate trees, just on this block alone.

You just can’t look at these pictures and tell me that this is okay. The plastic bags that are so ubiquitous in any shopping center are now, if today’s experience is to be believed, just as ubiquitous as leaf-replacement therapy for balding trees.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the No Impact Challenge, it’s how easy it is to go entirely bagless. My lifestyle doesn’t require plastic bags–I can bring my own reusable bag wherever I go. The convenience of using a plastic bag is so sorely outweighed by the negative impact they have–if they’re not filling up landfills or the ocean, they’re filling up trees–that there really are no more excuses.

Look! More bags!

Whether you read this blog for inspiration or because you simply enjoy our challenge, I encourage you to be observant next time you walk down the street. How many plastic bags are floating around up there? Do your part and bring your own bag when you go shopping and maybe our trees will grow some leaves this spring instead of plastic bags.

April 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

No Impact Challenge for May 2012!

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