City Considers Plastic Bag Tax

The tax was proposed during the April 25 city council meeting.

Choosing plastic at the check-out line could potentially cost Evanston residents an extra five cents if a bag tax ordinance passes.

The proposal was introduced Monday night by Alderman Coleen Burrus (9th Ward). The ordinance would add a five cent tax per each single-use plastic bag and penalize stores that don't comply with the rule.

Alderman Ann Rainey (8th Ward) asked Burrus if she would consider a ban on plastic bags instead of a tax, and Burris said she would, according to the Evanston Roundtable.



Richard Schulte April 26, 2011 at 10:21 PM
What's the purpose of this idea? I assume it's to raise costs for consumers (and more revenue for the city to waste). With the price of gasoline going sky-high and the cost of groceries going up, just what we need. Oh, I forgot food and gasoline are not included in the inflation rate because. . . Actually, I don't know why the cost of food and gasoline are not included in the inflation rate. Must be because the inflation rate would be over 10 percent if those two items were included. If I recall correctly, the Misery Index is the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate. Oh, now I know why food and gasoline are excluded from the inflation rate. The Misery Index would be too high. Alderman Burrus there was a robbery in downtown Evanston this morning and a shooting at McDonald's a few days ago. Don't you have anything better to do than worry about plastic bags?
J C April 27, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Is this some kind of a joke?......Really...It's pretty funny.
Sue Holbert April 27, 2011 at 02:33 PM
The tax or ban would encourage shoppers to choose to bring their own bags or ask for paper or other disposable bags (or go without a bag). Plastic bags are filling landfills and killing our planet and birds and fish. Look around as you walk around Evanston--you'll see plastic bags everywhere, hanging from trees, clogging drains, etc. There is an eye-opening movie (BAG IT) on the problems with plastic bags (and the toxicity of the industry and of many plastics). Try to see it! Some other communities have taxed or banned plastic bags. Sue Holbert
J C April 27, 2011 at 02:42 PM
I watched a video of a Japanese guy who has developed a process to reclaim plastic bags bottles etc, And turn them back in to oil. http://verticalfarmblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/turn-plastic-into-oil.html
J C April 27, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Styrofoam is the # 1 offender, In the series life without people they talked about how long it takes for things to degrade, Styrofoam may last for a million years. Even longer than Nuclear waste... History if there will be any, Wont view us to well I'm afraid...
Nancy Bruski April 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM
I saw the film "Bag It, " in Telluride, CO last year at their Mountain Film Festival. This award winning documentary details the environmental devastation being caused by the proliferation of plastic waste in our environment...causing our seafood to become toxic as fish ingest the plastic, as well as killing endangered sea turtles who ingest plastic that looks like jelly fish in the oceans. This is not to mention the toxicity being released into landfills by the chemicals in the plastic bags that leech into the soil. The idea is to supply free reusable bags to low income residents and strongly urge all citizens to use reusable bags when doing their shopping. Surely this is a small request in light of the waste of a dwindling resource (oil) being used to make these bags that are used, on average, for approximately 15 to 30 minutes before being thrown away. The Unitarian Church of Evanston will be screening the film "Bag It" at their June film night on Friday, June 3rd at 7pm. Please consider attending! You will definitely want to change your relationship with plastic after seeing this inspiring film.
Eileen Wiviott April 27, 2011 at 03:41 PM
This is not efficient or practical yet. The machine costs thousands of dollars. However, maybe we're on the right track.
Eileen Wiviott April 27, 2011 at 03:42 PM
We will be showing the film, "Bag It" at the Unitarian Church of Evanston on Friday, June 3rd at 7pm. I agree that there are many issues including violence and crime that demand our attention, but that we also need to be mindful of how much we consume.
Richard Schulte April 27, 2011 at 03:43 PM
CFL light bulbs = toxic mercury rain barrels = mosquito-borne diseases reusable shopping bags = bacterial contamination increased building insulation = mold Every "green" idea has its cost. With regard to oil (and natural gas), the oil and gas supply is not dwindling. The shortage is artificial. There is oil and gas all over the place in the US and older oil wells are refilling with oil. The problem is with environmental regulations that the US imposes on itself, while other countries don't care. Oil spills in the ocean are common events off the coast of Africa, but that's OK, just so long as there are no spills along the US coast. That makes no sense. The reason that the US is cleaner than other countries is because of our prosperity. Poor countries can't afford to abide by environmental regulations. Environmental regulations which make us poorer defeat the purpose of environmental regulations. A common sense approach to environment makes sense. Outlawing plastic bags is silly. No wonder businesses don't want to come to Evanston.
Judith Ramey April 27, 2011 at 03:53 PM
That's great if we might be able to turn those bags back into oil -- all the bags that are now floating in the ocean etc. (I read today in the AARP April Bulletin that there are an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic trash in each square mile of ocean.) Meanwhile, the responsible thing is to stop using them and adding them to the environment and I commend Ms. Burrus for beginning this effort to make the City of Evanston a leader in that effort. It is NOT a hardship for us. I've been taking my own bags to the store -- or requesting paper -- for years, as have many other people. Judith Ramey
Richard Schulte April 27, 2011 at 05:07 PM
I would be very interested in seeing the source of the 46,000 pieces of plastic trash per square mile in the ocean. If you have a source, I would be more than happy to research the subject. (If the trash is on the surface, you should be able to see it.) Just because someone says something does not make it so. We were told 20 years ago that we would run out of oil in 20 years. Oil is still all around. We were told that the oceans would be deserts and that there would be no marine life 20 years ago. I can still buy fish at the grocery store. We were also told that the earth is warming. If you are old enough to remember, in the mid-1970's, we were told about global cooling by same people who are telling us about global warming now. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Google "global cooling" and "Time" or "global cooling" and "Newsweek" to see the stories about global cooling from 1974/1975. If you do further research, you will see The New York Times publishing stories on global warming and global cooling alternately about every 30 years. If global warming is a hoax, why would you believe any of the other stuff coming from the "greens"? Do a little reading on the subject on global warming/cooling and there is only one thing to conclude-it's a "green" hoax.
Misti April 27, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Ok, we reuse our plastic bags!!!! Hello, we have dogs and we have to pick up their poop or we get fined!!! That is the only reason we don't use re-usable bags at the store! GRR!!! This is moronic!
Mitch Bruski April 27, 2011 at 11:28 PM
The purpose of this is to improve the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. Plastic bags are harmful to our health, waste energy and are an aesthetic irritant. (It might even help lower the "misery index"). San Francisco and DC have done it, now it's our turn to do the right thing..
Joan K. Raisner April 28, 2011 at 12:35 AM
A lot of good comments are being made in favor of taxing or banning plastic bags. The evidence is all around us that plastic bags are littering, choking trees and shrubs, and adding massive amounts of non-degradables to the waste stream. No question that plastic bags are destroying fragile systems like deserts and coral reefs, creating hazzards for living things and polluting our oceans. Manufacturing plastic bags uses petroleum products that pollute our air and waterways. Not to mention that it binds us to countries with very dubious records on human rights. Some people don't believe that human activities are influencing the climate either and want to challenge that science as well. Some people will never believe that we landed men on the moon and brought them back, either. Don't believe the information about plastic in the ocean? Go to Hawaii and see the square miles of plastic trash that pileup there, some even larger than the islands themselves. Dog walkers can use a pooper scooper device or make "green baggies" out of old newspapers. You can go on line for other alternatives. Why shouldn't Evanston be part of something good? Banning or taxing plastic bags is a start.
Judith Ramey April 28, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Thank you, Joan, for this comment. To Misti, yes, I have thought about all those plastic bags that dog owners use to do the responsible thing with their dog's waste. And, I'm a dog lover though not owner right now. There are alternatives. To Richard, I can only say, please change your focus to a clearer one.
Joan K. Raisner April 28, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Glad you reuse the plastic in some way. How does this make the effort to reduce plastic bag use by taxing or banning moronic? I don't get how this has you so worked up.
Richard Schulte April 28, 2011 at 12:34 PM
A city with so many serious problems and we're worried about plastic bags. So we eliminate plastic bags at the grocery store, what about all of the other plastics in our life? Just another reason not to shop in Evanston (or start a business). Somebody has way too much time on their hands. It appears that nobody bothered to Google "global cooling" and "Time" and "Newsweek". Intellectual honesty is not part of Evanston's culture. "Another Ice Age?" Time magazine, June 24, 1974 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html "The Cooling World" Newsweek magazine, April 28, 1975 http://denisdutton.com/newsweek_coolingworld.pdf New York Time-November 19, 1881 (129 years ago) http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/nyt-1881-global-warming-to-cause-arctic-meltdown-drought-hurricanes-yellow-fever-earthquakes-volcanoes/ Global Cooling and Global Warming since the 1800's http://caps.fool.com/blogs/periodic-claims-of-global/311314
Richard Schulte April 28, 2011 at 01:07 PM
"It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of “geologists.” Only the president at the time wasn’t Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn’t warning about global warming – it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age. The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each prediction carried its own elements of doom, saying Canada could be “wiped out” or lower crop yields would mean “billions will die.” Just as the weather has changed over time, so has the reporting – blowing hot or cold with short-term changes in temperature. Following the ice age threats from the late 1800s, fears of an imminent and icy catastrophe were compounded in the 1920s by Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan and an obsession with the news of his polar expedition. As the Times put it on Feb. 24, 1895, “Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again.” Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth’s surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning “the earth is steadily growing warmer.” http://caps.fool.com/blogs/periodic-claims-of-global/311314
Eileen Wiviott April 28, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Well said! It is absurd to think that almost 7 billion people on the earth consuming at a breathtaking pace would not have a negative impact on the environment and it is incredibly short sighted and ignorant to think that because we still have snow storms global warming isn't happening. Is it really that difficult to bring your own bag to the grocery store? Really? Is it more important, Richard, for you to spend so much time trying to argue that single use plastic bags do not have an impact on our environment? I think you are the one with too much time on your hands. The rest of us read too and there's a great deal more evidence for climate change than not.
Richard Schulte April 28, 2011 at 02:15 PM
". . .Is it more important, Richard, for you to spend so much time trying to argue that single use plastic bags do not have an impact on our environment? I think you are the one with too much time on your hands. The rest of us read too and there's a great deal more evidence for climate change than not." Yes, it is important-very important, in fact. The foundation of the "green" philosophy, global warming, is a hoax. I once was a "green", but my intellectual curiosity led me to discover that we were being misled. "Green" is just a cover for socialism. Socialism destroys everything it touches. It's in the process of destroying the US economy right now.
Alexandria April 28, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Bag It is a great way to raise awareness on this issue but I think this ordinance (like the one in the movie) is a GREAT way to encourage sustainable practice while still stimulating the economy! Green is the only way our economy can become dependent on ourselves and our people instead of relying on other countries for the majority of our goods which led us to the amounts of debt we are currently in. There is nothing harmful about this ordinance or sustainable practice, and they in turn provide a whole array of new jobs to offset what may be lost economically. I'm working on doing this in the town I am living in currently and would love some assistance in finding out more on the process for proposing an ordinance such as this.
Nancy Bruski April 28, 2011 at 10:47 PM
To Judith and other supporters: Thanks so much for understanding the need to do our part to care for our planet. It's sad that Richard is so full of resentment about what he sees as lies and mendacity being spread by environmentalists that he can't see what is all around him...plastic bags everywhere. They end up in the oceans. It is not rumor or innuendo, it is a fact that sea turtle post-mortem exams turn up plastic bags that they consumed in the mistaken impression that they were jellyfish. It is a fact that plastic does not decompose, it simply shrinks into tiny pieces when exposed to the sun and the water in the ocean and it is being ingested by fish and creating some of the toxicity of seafood we have all been warned about...the same seafood that our doctors have advised us to eat to help manage our cholesterol! There are a myriad of reasons why plastic bags, that are made simply to be used for 15 to 20 minutes and then thrown away, are wasteful and unnecessary. As for the problem of reusable bags being a health risk, most of them are washable...just throw them in the washing machine or surface wash them with dishwashing liquid, they clean up fine, problem solved. Let's do what we can to protect our earth. It's not really that hard.
Nancy Bruski April 28, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Alexandria: If you go to the "Bag It" movie's website, bagitthemovie.com (I think that's it, or you can google it), you will find information about current efforts to create such ordinances in cities and towns around the country. The folks who made the movie are very helpful and you could email them for resources. In Evanston, Citizens for a Greener Evanston has taken the lead in drafting the ordinance and shepherding it along to its recent introduction to the city council committee. If you google that organization, I'm sure you could get in touch with folks who could be helpful to you in providing information on strategies to create such an ordinance in your own community! Thanks so much for your interest!
Richard Schulte April 29, 2011 at 01:09 AM
"There is nothing harmful about this ordinance or sustainable practice, and they in turn provide a whole array of new jobs to offset what may be lost economically." Of course, there is harm. When I tell people I live in Evanston, they start smiling or laughing. They figure I'm a kook. Having a reputation as a kooky city is very harmful. Look around downtown at all the vacant retail spaces. People don't want to do business in Evanston because of its reputation as being anti-business. I heard that the City Council is thinking about changing the name of the city to New Detroit. The place is falling apart and the people who live here can't even see it. Oh well, as my grandfather used to say, "shoot yourself in the foot, see if I care". People will just go shop somewhere where they can get plastic bags if they want them. Silly Evanston.
Judith Ramey April 29, 2011 at 01:20 AM
It may be time to end this conversation if our only reason to continue is to try to bring Richard around to a different way of looking at things. That isn't going to happen soon, I think, but . . . peace be with you, Richard.
Joan K. Raisner April 29, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I have enjoyed learning more information about the plastic bag problem from comments made in this dialogue. I hope we don't stop because of some attack tactics from one person. Richard, to me your contributions to the conversation so far are beside the point for the most part. I do not care to argue with you or try to shift your viewpoint. The illogic of "why should we do this because we aren't doing that," or confusing social responsibility with a political system, and your name-calling, all make me sad. I hope it won't sound patronizing to you if I point out that the reason Evanston welcomes all opinions including yours into the civic dialogue is a reason to be proud to live here. Have you considered adding some new friends into your life who understand why you want to live here and be one of the "kooks?"
Richard Schulte April 30, 2011 at 04:44 PM
As I was walking to the grocery store this morning (Whole Foods), as I do every morning, I was thinking about all the fossil fuel used to heat and cool those big houses on Forest Avenue and Michigan Avenue. You know the ones I'm talking about. Then I started thinking about all the "gas-guzzler" cars I saw parked on the street along my route to the store. Maybe the City Council needs to enact a "energy-guzzler" tax on big homes and a "gas-guzzler" tax on all those Range Rovers, SUV's and the like. And maybe, the City should tear down all of those new parking garages downtown so that residents would not have any place to park and have to walk to downtown. (I do that once or twice a week, even in February.) We could even ban cars in the downtown district to force people to walk. (That would make it more difficult for criminals to rob the businesses downtown, so it would be a solution to Evanston's crime problem too.) Have you noticed how deserted the sidewalks are in Evanston are? It seems like the only people who use the sidewalk are folks with dogs. Walking is really good for you. Evanston could become a "green utopia" and all the folks leaving California because the state is bankrupt could come here. Property values would soar. If we're going to tax or ban plastic bags, let's just go all the way.
Richard Schulte April 30, 2011 at 04:55 PM
The plastic bags washing up on the beaches are from cruise ships. The people who take cruises are the same people who live in those "energy-guzzler" homes in Evanston and drive those "gas-guzzler" vehicles (and propose plastic bag taxes). BTW, I really do walk to Whole Foods every morning, and evening too. My Corolla gets over 30 miles per gallon and 10 gallons of gasoline lasts me a month. I don't drive to work in the morning-I walk 20 feet from my bedroom to my office. Who's "green"? Instead of getting the government involved in regulating plastic bags, why don't we try educating people about why they may want to use paper bags, rather than plastic bags. The government has got their fingers in enough stuff already.


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