With the City Council expected to vote on a five-cent tax on those who use plastic bags at the grocery store, let's examine who this will really hurt.
A canvas grocery bag – a simple search shows most are in the $15 range – is an unaffordable luxury for some, especially those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. It's a cost that's not going to be factored in on a tight budget.
And it's a proven fact that the cost of living isn't getting and cheaper in New York City, so if you're a senior on a tight budget, you're battling climbing rent costs every year, that $15 will certainly come in handy.
The only way that New York City could successfully pull this off is to require every single grocery store and deli to carry paper bags and levy huge fines for stores that don't. Or give residents a few free canvas tote bags every year.
The obvious argument is that plastic bags are bad for the environment, which is true, but why is it that the common citizen is always forced to pay for the destruction of the planet? So a plastic bag tax on the poorest residents of New York City is fine, but a carbon tax on some of the richest companies in the country is absurd?
It's another case of taking an easy “show-me” solution to a real problem. Sure, having less plastic bags is going to be better for the environment, but this puts the burden on those who can least afford it.
Ridding the city's stores of plastic bags is a noble idea, but a regressive approach isn't the way to go about it.