The proof is in the trees that bag tax works
As of July 1, the nickel per shopping bag fee was killed by city council at the urging of Mayor Rob Ford, who got more than he bargained for when it also passed a bylaw prohibiting plastic shopping bags as of 2013.
But retailers are still charging a nickel for a bag, insisting they’re doing it for the environment, when we all know it’s a nose stretching lie, driven by parsimony.
Before the bag tax kicked in, we wrote a Fixer column about a sickening amount of shopping bags that were caught in the branches of a line of trees next to the Dufferin Mall, on Dufferin St., south of Bloor St.
So many bags were blown by the wind into the trees from the mall’s elevated parking deck that they fluttered like leaves in the bare branches, and added up to an excellent reason for measures to cut down on their use.
We walked along the retaining wall between the top level of the parking deck and the trees while at the mall Tuesday and were delighted to see only a few bags caught in the branches, a dramatic improvement from a couple years earlier.
While shredded bags also fluttered from trees in many other places prior to the tax, we’ve noticed a lot fewer of them lately, which squares with the large overall reduction in the number of bags shoppers are using since the tax kicked in.
While most of us resent having to pay for them, when we know the money is offsetting retailers’ costs to provide bags, there is no arguing that it is has had the desired effect of keeping them out of trees and landfills.
The 2013 bag ban imposed by city council will likely be far more irritating to many people than the nickel tax, but is likely to be an even better measure to keep them out of the wrong places, and that can’t be a bad thing.