Charging for Shopping Bags Another Modern-day Scam?

Charging for Shopping Bags

I had heard it was coming. Apparently the date at our Walmart store was May 16th. Gee, I gather when I was over the weekend,¬†I completely missed it or I was charged and didn’t notice. But today Walmart was charging me .05 cents per bag! I was just a little miffed about it myself.

Charging for Plastic Shopping Bags

Charging for Bags Invokes Strong FeelingsEver since Ontario jumped on the band wagon of charging for plastic shopping bags; I thought to myself what a crock of shit! I’m sorry but I feel really strongly about this. It’s not that I don’t believe in the 3Rs. I’m all for reduce, re-use and recycle. I recycle almost everything at home and maybe have 1 bag of garbage I throw out each month. (mind you at another cost of $2.50 per bag tag) But money factors aside for a moment. I don’t believe the real reason behind charging for plastic bags IS the 3Rs.

I honestly think that retailers have just found another way to take a few cents out of each customer’s pocket. And that’s what really irks me! When you have hundreds, thousands and millions of customers all averaging a few bags per checkout, that’s a nice little income times by 5 cents!

FACTS: Walmart Charging for Plastic Bags

Walmart Canada says “some” of the proceeds are to go¬†toward supporting recycling initiatives for grocery bags and other thin plastic objects, according to the article in Toronto Star.

Another fact in the same article: Walmart Canada has 397 stores and serves more than 1.2 million customers per day.

Hmm, see what I mean? Why aren’t all the proceeds going towards recycling measure? Why not even mention the percentage? I can almost guarantee by the time they are finished divvying¬†up that income from the 5 cents per bag on their own costs there won’t be much left over as far as “proceeds” go. And, ahem, what did I say earlier? 1.2 million customers per day and say just 2 bags each customer is $60,000 at a very minimum.

I’d say that’s a nice way to increase Walmart’s¬†income without lifting a finger.

Not Just Walmart Charging for Bags

I don’t want to sound like I’m only harping on Walmart, but I thought they would be better than all the rest. Guess I was wrong. Many, if not most grocery stores are now charging for plastic bags, including Metro, FreshCo, No Frills, Price Chopper and more. Some of these stores however offer an option of utilizing boxes to carry out your groceries. If of course you can find any boxes. Lately I’ve seen them dismantle boxes after putting the groceries out on the shelves and never leave them for the customer to take any more. Interesting, isn’t it? Is this a way to ensure you have to pay the 5 cents they are charging?

Why not use Paper Bags Like They Used To?

It’s funny because I think the first thing everyone wants to think of is, “why not use paper bags” just like we used to? The fact is that every bag paper, plastic or reusable has an environmental impact. Here are some facts I found on All About Bags that you might find interesting too:

Charging in the name of 3Rs

  1. Paper bags have a much higher global warming potential
  2. Plastic bags were invented as an alternative to paper grocery bags in the late 1970’s to protect trees and prevent clear-cutting of our forests.
  3. Plastic bags are a by-product of natural gas extraction and provide an environmental solution to the burn off of this gas during the refining process.
  4. The manufacture of paper bags consumes four times more water than the manufacture of plastic bags and paper generates three times more greenhouse gases.
  5. Paper bags tend to fail on reuse because they tear easily and are not waterproof.
  6. Paper bags create additional volume and tonnage to the waste stream.
  7. Paper grocery bags are heavier than plastic bags.
  8. Paper bags tend to have higher recycling rates than plastic bags.
  9. It takes seven trucks to transport two million paper bags, versus one truck to carry two million plastic bags.
  10. Conventional plastic bags are highly reusable and outperform paper. They are reused as carry bags and as kitchen catchers for garbage and organics, among their many uses.

Are Re-usable Bags Really the Answer to Charging for Plastic Ones?

I don’t think so. First off many of the reusable bags are simply made of even heavier plastic! If you want to keep them out of the landfill then using a heavier plastic isn’t the answer when these bags do finally get discarded. As I mentioned above all bags will have an environmental impact. Plus how often have you bought one of these bags and sure enough forgotten them at home? I know I have. Those bags never seem to be there when I need them. So I don’t think this is a viable answer either. If you would like to read more about the various types of bags and their advantages and disadvantages; please be sure to read this article.

Is There An Answer?

Charging - Is there an answer?I’m not really sure there is. One of the things that we’ve been striving for at home is to head towards “zero waste” products. That means we purchase more fruits and vegetables and bulk foods that contain little or no packaging materials at all. Not only is this method more environmentally friendly but it’s also way healthier to eat. I mean buying pre-packaged cereals and canned goods, Mr. Noodles etc are all full of chemicals used in the processing and packaging for a longer shelf life.

Bags, whether they are plastic, paper or reusable are actually only a small percentage of our landfills today and if we really want to do something about it, then charging for bags … taking that measly 5 cents out of each customers pocket is NOT¬†the answer to the 3Rs !!

To me charging for shopping bags is just another modern-day scam !!