Plastic bag fees in New York City? What about Seattle?

Mayor Bloomberg’s office has urged, urged, urged people in New York City to use cloth grocery bags for a long time now. They’ve cajoled. They’ve pleaded. His office has set up plastic bag recycling receptacles at various supermarkets around the city in an effort to make the city folk more environmentally conscience.

But people just love, love, love those plastic bags. They just can’t stop using them. Now, there’s another plan in the pipeline. You can use those handy sacks of thin plastic, but it might cost you. If the plan goes in the direction Bloomberg would like, people who want their groceries sacked in plastic will pay 6-cents per bag at check-out.

This very European move– the New York Times article cites many European countries as having similar measures, would generate income for the city. The $16 million would come in handy each year when it comes to doling out the budget.

Some say that 6-cents won’t make much difference in people’s sack habits and the fee should be much higher. How much higher? When people in Ireland had to fork over 33-cents for a plastic bag starting in 2003, plastic sack use dropped by 94-percent.

Bloomberg thinks 6-cents is a good place to start. Seattle is considering similar measures and Los Angeles and Dallas have also studied ways to get people to stop using plastic like there’s no tomorrow.

Perhaps if eco-friendly shopping bags became more of a status symbol, and using plastic became so low brow that people who used them would be so embarrassed they’d feel compelled to duck their heads as to not be noticed, people’s habits would change.

At any rate, if you’re visiting New York City and duck into a deli for a snack, consider forgoing the bag. Bloomberg will thank you.