The City of Chicago Bag Tax Has Affected My Shopping Habits

I think it’s great that the 7 cent bag tax is changing Chicagoan’s behaviors towards a cleaner city and a more sustainable planet.

Huzzah for Mother Earth!

I, and many others, don’t like paying for a bag.  Several reports in recent days have noted declining use of plastic bags as one of the early results of the tax.

And yes, now I have a stash of those reusable bags that I’ve had for years front and center both at work and home.

But here’s an unintended consequence—My total purchases per trip have gone down.  If I don’t have enough bags for what I’d like to buy, I don’t buy it.

I’m sure this wasn’t the effect that retailers were hoping for when the tax took effect on February 1st.

Honestly, I’d be more likely to purchase a bag if I knew the resulting revenue wasn’t a line item in the City of Chicago budget or if the money actually went towards environmental works.  Giving up 7 cents a bag stings less when you know that cash is going to clean up the Chicago River or fly dumping sites.

But it’s not.

In my opinion, it’s adding insult to injury as a city of Chicago resident.

There’s no money for schools or teachers, but we have to get nickeled and dimed when we shop because the city has to look for new revenue money.

Nope.  Not happening

It’s a hell of a thing to go from a constituent to a revenue stream.

Then of course this isn’t the first time the city has tried to do something like this.  Remember all of those “hidden” fees on the folks who might have used the Ventra card also as a pre-paid debit card?

Do you also remember the marketing push to market the cards to Chicagoans who didn’t have traditional bank accounts?

I do.

This time instead of attempting to concentrate the money grab on those who can least afford it, the pain is getting spread around to everyone—tourists & suburbanites included.

I’d love to see analysis of retail sales pre & post bag tax.  I wonder if others are buying less like myself or find themselves putting off a purchase because they don’t’ want to carry a larger or potentially embarrassing item down the street sans bag?

I wonder if the 2 cent bounty from each bag that retailer receives is enough to offset possible lost sales AND municipal sales tax revenue.

Time will tell.

For now I can tell you that the city of Chicago has succeeded in modifying my behavior.  I just hope that filling a budget shortfall won’t result in a phrryic victory for the city at the expense of its merchants.

‘Cause I’m not buying that bag unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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