According to Elisabeth Rosenthal in this morning's New York Times, plastic bags have fallen out of favor in Ireland:
In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts. Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.
We may be "frail creatures of dust," but apparently plastic bags last forever--and very few people recycle them. I hadn't realized this, but the other day I noticed a look of polite shock on the face of the Whole Foods cashier when I requested plastic. (I return my bags! Religiously! Except for the ones I dedicate to canine cleanliness, which is another way of protecting the environment . . . or so I thought.)
So I bought a Whole Foods cloth grocery bag made from 80% post-consumer waste (not sure what that would be: should I wash my hands after touching it?), and I plan to buy a Trader Joe bag as well, since that's where I buy most of my groceries. And I promise never to wear a fur coat while grocery shopping, and I will continue to clean up after my dogs . . .
. . . but wait, now I have a problem. Without plastic bags, what do I do with Tiggy and Muffin's post-consumer waste?