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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do You Need a Plastic Bag?

This occurred to me today, while buying cold medicine at a local pharmacy. What alternative things can we do to save the environment? Mandate managers to train their cashiers to ask, "do you need a plastic bag for that?"

A small detail, I know, but it makes sense since most of the time, we don't really need bags especially for our small purchases. That new book bought, for instance, can just as easily fit into the bag one brought with or without plastic. But we often forget, just like I did today, as I carried home my package in a plastic bag, when I could have simply put it in my pocket. If only the cashier asked me, perhaps I would have remembered.

Do you need a plastic bag? What if all cashiers of small stores asked this question whenever people bought anything? I wonder how much could be saved. It would be a good example of "nudge."

Another good nudge would be taxing plastic bags with a meagre amount, say 1 peso per. While this is such a small amount that in principle would not hurt anyone economically, the concept of loss aversion would say that people would respond significantly by cutting their bag consumption.

How about this as an alternative policy?


BMeis said...

DC taxed plastic bags. These guys liked the results:

These guys didn't:

Seems to me like a success.

Paolo Abarcar said...

Ben, DC actually was my inspiration. Loved that policy

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