The San Francisco Commission on the Environment -- a group that meets bimonthly and serves to advise the Mayor on matters of the environment -- is recommending that the city impose a charge on all grocery bags. Initial thoughts are that this charge would be 17 cents per bag. Basically, they want to encourage cleaner city streets, save money on clean up costs, help to fund said costs, and safer conditions for marine life.
So, let's see . . . if shopping for a family of four for a about week . . . maybe eight or nine sacks of goods, double-bagged to prevent breakage . . . we're talking somewhere in the area of a buck-fifty a week charged to shoppers. An oversimplification, to be sure -- and not SOOO much money. But for all the cost of putting the mechanism in place that could monitor and enforce this law, it strikes the SFist that this may be more trouble than it's really worth and that there may be more value in trying to achieve these laudable goals in a different way.
Paul Pelosi Jr., commission vice president, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "We're not trying to just charge a user fee; we're trying to make a change in behavior."
Gee, Paul -- when we were kids, we only responded to . No, really, we responded when the reasons behind the behavioral change were explained in a manner that made sense and changes were made to our environment that encouraged us to accept and support the new behavior.
We submit that perhaps -- perhaps this may be a situation where we should give a "carrot" a chance to solve a problem before defaulting to using a "stick."
Photo taken sans permission from the super-funny PaperBagHead.com