Thursday, March 20, 2008

Taxes Good For The Environment?

Want to motivate people to make eco-friendly choices? Just tax the undesirable "other" option. At least this seems to be true in Ireland. In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags and customers who'd like to use the bags paid 33 cents per bag at the counter. Within weeks this minimal fee made plastic bag use drop by 94%!

In 2007, Hong Kong tried a similar idea and also found winning results. Charging 60 cents per bag, plastic bag use dropped like a rock.

Even England may be getting in on the action.

And lastly, bringing it home, Santa Monica began considering banning plastic bag use and charging a tax for the paper kind in 2007.

Would this work on a large scale in the U.S? Well, I shop at Aldi a lot and in order to keep their prices rock-bottom (and I mean rock-bottom, even beating Wal-Mart!) they use the no frills approach, which means no bags provided at all. You can purchase paper bags for 5 cents or reusable plastic bags for 10 cents each. I purchased 5 or 6 plastic ones 2 years ago and still use them today!

So it seems that the bottom line is a person's wallet. What a surprise that is. Now, why exactly we're being taxed and not just charged I'm not sure. But if it works, it works. At least it's a tax we can legally avoid.

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