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Is Bag Tax Eco-Chic? Our Readers Respond.

Patch readers respond to last week's poll and post regarding the Montgomery County bag tax.

The Montgomery County bag tax is less than eco-chic, according to our readers.

Of the 79 users who responded to our extraordinarily unscientific poll, 53 felt the tax was more of an eco-fail.

“I don't mind paying taxes for the services we receive, but this nuisance tax should be repealed,”

Maryland blogs and online forums have popped up encouraging residents to contact the county and request a repeal.

A Facebook page dedicated to killing bag taxes nationwide has made multiple posts about the Montgomery County tax, with many commenters calling for a repeal of the vote. 

However, Montgomery County residents have not quite reached the stage of calling for a repeal of the new law, though in Seattle, a city continuously ranked as among the “greenest” in the nation, a similar bag tax was finally rejected by 58 percent of resident voters.

“To our knowledge, we have not received any requests from either residents or retailers to repeal the law,” said Esther Bowring, a public information officer with Montgomery County.

The main concerns the county have heard include problems with setting out recyclable paper in paper bags when the bags are no longer free and the question of simply banning plastic altogether, according to Bowring.

“Most people are aware of the benefits of using reusable bags instead of disposable bags,” Bowring said, adding that “currently, Target, Giant and many major retailers voluntarily offer a credit to customers who already bring their own bags to the checkout counter, further raising awareness about the issue and rewarding shoppers.”

But the issue with our readers is not so much a lack of knowledge about the positives of using reusable bags, but a concern for the county’s method of seemingly punishing shoppers for using the bags rather than rewarding them for not.

“Why not continue encouraging the purchase and usage of [reusable bags] by making them accessible at a reasonable cost to county residents,” suggested Michele Driscoll on the Potomac Patch Facebook page.

“Encourage or enforce?” Driscoll said.

Corbin Dallas Multipass October 13, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Syvlia: Yes, everyone knows it is a tax, pure and simple, and the point of the Tax is to get people to change their behaviors to save money. You also have the option of not changing your behavior and spending more money. If you reuse all your bags (think that's what you meant instead of recycle) then let me first laud you for your environmental consciousness. Unfortunately, a side effect of the bag tax is that you need to make a decision of which is cheaper - buying separate bags or paying 5cents per bag. I'm in the same boat - I use paper bags from Trader Joe's for my paper recycling. I'll have to pay 5 cents twice a month for my paper that comes in. Arguably, as a side effect, I'll probably be looking at what paper comes in to my home and see if there's ways to stop it. No paper in, less paper out, less waste overall. The environmental problem being targeted is litter specifically. People when washing their clothes don't create litter. And thankfully the population of Montgomery County hasn't gotten accustomed to dumping dirty diapers outside of trash cans and in local rivers. However, the county is listening, and if you want to voice your opinion, you should read the FAQ and follow their instructions for contacting the Department of Environmental Protection: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgtmpl.asp?url=/content/pio/bag/faqs_residents.asp#20
Sylvia Darrow October 13, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Corbin, I respectfully disagree with you. This is not just an issue about litter! This is about forcing us to do just as you say, either pay for our bags, or pay and buy our bags. I have several nice bags to carry into the stores. They just don't hold a month's groceries! People will always find a way to trash our enviornment! Teaching Good manners and respect would be better than penalities on those of us who carefully find the nearest trash can!
bmsinmd March 06, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Y'all folks - PUH-LEEZE! - could we hyperventilate about more important things? Does everything need to escalate to an act of war? We are talking about 5 freakin' centavos, folks - FIVE CENTS! and if you get multiples, it may come to TEN or maybe even TWENTY cents. SO WHAT? Are you seriously worried about such chump change? Might we consider what the whole effort is about? Who among us has not walked a park and seen plastic bags stuck to bushes and trees by the path? What homeowner has not had to remove plastic bags from his flower bed in front? They are a blight on the country, folks. ANd a very simple solution is for us to carry our own reusable bags. How difficult is that? Are we so stupid? And when we forget, what's a few pennies to remind us for next time? Come on, folks, grow up, get serious, do the right thing. 'K?
Susan March 06, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Amen, bmsinmd.
Jim April 03, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I don't have a problem with a bag tax on plastic pags from grocery or convenience stores as that does seem to have some relationship to trying to address the environment. I do, however, have a problem wiith a bag tax that applies to all bags, including paper, that applies automatically to all retail stores, including department stores or retail chains. For example, having to shell out a tax for picking up plates at the Montgomery mall that I bought online at Crate and Barrel is ridiculous (which recently happened to me). The problem with this tax is that it is way overbroad to accomplish the supposed problem that the Council claims it is trying to address. For their stupidity (in not addressing the supposed problem) or lack of honesty (i.e., that the tax is really just about raising cash), the entire Council should be voted out of office.

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