The Nose

The Nose: Want to cry or pout about plastic bag fees? Now’s the time, Tacoma

Will Gong bags up groceries for customers at Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia in 2012. Olympia has had a plastic ban since 2014. Will Tacoma be next?
Will Gong bags up groceries for customers at Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia in 2012. Olympia has had a plastic ban since 2014. Will Tacoma be next? Staff file, 2012

Good thing St. Nick carries a reusable cloth sack when he makes his annual excursion across the rooftops of Tacoma. Otherwise, by next year, he could find himself on the naughty list.

We wonder if Santa and his elves (i.e., the subordinate clauses) have heard the big news coming out of The 253: that the stewards/nannies of the Earth who work at Tacoma City Hall are exploring whether to bring down the hammer on plastic grocery bags next year.

In order to maintain one’s environmental street cred, you see, it’s vital to keep up with the Seattles, Portlands, Bellinghams and Olympias of the world. This fall, even England started imposing a 5-pence fee on every grocery bag issued (that’s 8 cents in real money), and who wants to be left behind by the limeys?

Imagine a society where everyone nods approvingly at each other’s stylish tote bags — a sack-free society where everyone shops at Costco. (Just ignore all those pontoon-size plastic containers and clamshells.)

Imagine. It’s easy if you try.

But before Tacoma goes too far down this utopian path, it figured it should hear from the people. Maybe folks around here want to keep clinging to familiar packaging that’s convenient, ubiquitous and can be relied on to last forever, like Asarco pollution or a Hostess Twinkie.

So as you lay among piles of wrapping paper this weekend, you can take a few minutes to complete a survey on single-use plastic shopping bags (also known as “T-shirt bags,” among fashionistas) as well as disposable paper bags. More than 1,600 people have responded so far.

Alas, the survey form doesn’t provide a full range of response options, so today the Schnoz is adding some of our own.

1. How would you describe your ties to the City of Tacoma?

▪ I am a Tacoma resident.

▪ I work or frequently shop in Tacoma.

▪ I am a Seattle resident who frequently comes to Tacoma to dump my plastic bags and other trash in the woods.

2. When you shop for groceries, do you usually:

▪ Ask for plastic bags.

▪ Ask for paper bags.

▪ Bring reusable cloth tote bags.

▪ Bring service-animal-certified donkey equipped with leather saddlebags.

▪ Stuff groceries in pants, then walk to the car slowly to prevent eggs from cracking.

3. What do you normally do with your plastic shopping bags?

▪ Throw them away.

▪ Recycle them.

▪ Reuse them.

▪ Keep cramming them in hall closet until door eventually blows off its hinges.

▪ Store them in glove compartment for emergency use as litter bag, barf bag, T-shirt or parachute.

4. Please rate the following statement: “I am concerned about the amount of litter and waste plastic bags create.”

▪ Agree. Feel all plastic bag users should be given stink eye and wagging finger of shame.

▪ Strongly agree. Feel users should be covered with hot tar and plastic bags and forced to stand in Tollefson Plaza.

▪ Neutral. When grocery clerk asks “paper or plastic?” I always say “yes!”

▪ Disagree. Without plastic bags to pick up poop, I will have to get rid of my pet.

▪ Strongly disagree. Without bags to wrap up disposable diapers, I will have to get rid of my baby.

5. Which punitive model do you favor for restricting plastic bag use?

▪ No action.

▪ Fee on plastic bags.

▪ Ban plastic bags entirely.

▪ Jail time for first offense.

▪ Capital punishment for multiple offenses. (New billboard campaign: “Tag ’em and bag ’em!”)

6. If a fee is applied to disposable bags, how should the revenue be used?

▪ Given to retailer to offset increased bag costs.

▪ Given to a community environmental clean-up organization.

▪ Given to nonprofit to buy stylish totes for all of Tacoma’s bag ladies.

▪ Given to Tacoma City Hall to fund new Disposable Bag Enforcement and Public Shaming Task Force.

7. If a fee or ban is adopted, which businesses should it apply to?

▪ Businesses over a certain square footage.

▪ Businesses over a certain revenue.

▪ All businesses.

▪ All businesses except those that sell fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, greeting cards, small hardware items, newspapers, dry-cleaning services, takeout foods, frozen foods, meat, dead fish, live fish (such as goldfish), anything that is damp or might get damp — to summarize, pretty much any business that can conceive a half-baked excuse why they might need plastic bags.

8. Please rate the following statement: “The City of Tacoma should adopt an ordinance restricting the use of disposable shopping bags.”

▪ Agree. Since Seattle did it, then it must be right.

▪ Disagree. Since Seattle did it, then it must be wrong.

▪ Neutral. Everyone should show tolerance for each other’s bag preferences. Some people like to swing bags with plastic handles, some with cloth handles. Some like to swing both ways. Can’t we all just get along?

9. What is the appropriate lead time for implementation of an ordinance if approved?

▪ 3 minutes

▪ 3 months

▪ 12 months

▪ Long enough for us to save up enough money to move to Fife.

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

How to take the real survey

Go online to cityoftacoma.org/ShoppingBags. The city has extended the deadline until Jan. 15.

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