In late spring, the Connecticut legislature imposed a 10 cent tax on most single use plastic bags, such as ones at the grocery or drug store. On August 1st, this measure took effect. Rather than charge customers the 10 cent tax, the stores I frequent eliminated them altogether and began to charge for paper bags. The alternative provided was to supply one’s own bag. Previously, Whole Foods had eliminated plastic bags and given a 5 cent rebate for using one’s own bag. While its procedures stayed the same, all other stores changed.
Skeptic that I am I expected many people would arrive at the store empty handed, complain loudly about being charged for a bag, and leave in a bad mood. To my surprise, nearly every person I saw entering any given store had a bag of some sort in hand. Those without bags were leaving stores with unbagged goods. I was amazed at what a disincentive paying for a bag turned out to be for a majority of my neighbors. Previously I only occasionally saw people with their own bags. Now they were everywhere.
Perhaps we need to have to dramatically change habits more often. Who knows what governments could achieve. We could be charged for riding elevators instead of using the stairs.(Doctor’s excuses would be valid.) Parking meters close to shops could be more expensive. Cigarettes could have $25 dollar taxes. But who would put up with being made to change their habits? Apparently Connecticut shoppers! Who knew?