I was down in D.C. last Friday when the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act first went into effect instituting a 5-cent fee on each disposable plastic or paper bag issued in the District.
The money is to go to cleaning up the Anacostia River (which badly needs it), but the main goal for the law is to change consumer behavior.
Although skeptics abound, I’m excited to see the outcome. Sure, five cents, isn’t much, but I think it’s enough to make people stop and think about their consumption.
With so much on our minds, we need a little encouragement. I happened to care a lot about clogged rivers and tributaries—and the environment more generally—but I find it hard without a little nudge to change my daily routines.
Today, on the way home from buying some books, I stopped into CVS for a half-gallon of milk and some cereal (see picture). When I got home I found that I’d been given eight bags to carry the three items (see picture)! (Somewhat ironically, the Washington CVS stores recently partnered with the D.C. Department of Environment to provide 112,000 free reusable bags to customers in the metropolitan area. Hopefully, they haven’t been handing them out eight at a time.)
This needs to change and I, for one, would welcome the adoption of a similar law in my hometown. Would you?
On a side note, for those art and film lovers out there, there is a tremendous short film, Next Floor, engaging the theme of overconsumption, being shown until April 11, 2010 at the Hirshhorn Gallery in D.C. The film garnered the creator and producer, Phoebe Greenberg, the award for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. I highly recommend it.