Bag fee the right step for Basalt government | AspenTimes.com

Bag fee the right step for Basalt government

The Aspen Times
Aspen Co Colorado

It appears as though Basalt is moving in the same direction as Aspen and Carbondale by working toward a fee on plastic bags, a move sets an example for environmental stewardship.

On Tuesday, the Basalt Town Council gave an informal nod to charge shoppers a 20-cent fee for the use of paper and plastic bags at the town’s two supermarkets. Local governments in Aspen and Carbondale are mulling similar fees, though possibly not as high.

This is a thorny issue, one that opponents say smacks of government intrusion into people’s lives. They have a point: Local grocery shoppers have never paid a fee for disposable grocery bags in the past, and here comes the government imposing one.

Yet at the same time, as a whole people aren’t changing their behavior either, and neither are the grocers. When things are free and convenient, such as disposable bags, we tend to like it that way, no matter how wasteful it may be.

So in this instance, we support the government discouraging waste by implementing a fee, as opposed to moseying along with the status quo.

This isn’t just some feel-good ordinance by the Basalt Town Council so everybody can pat themselves on the back (though we’re sure some of that will go on, too). And it’s not unique, either (in the early 1970s, states passed laws requiring bottle deposits, Oregon being the first).

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Of course, those who want to avoid paying the fee can simply spend a few bucks on reusable bags, and the problem will be solved.

And even if you’re not green-minded or trying to reduce your carbon footprint, there’s a good chance you might like the reusable bags more than their paper and plastic counterparts. They can contain more products, and unlike plastic bags, they can hold a carton of milk and a bottle of juice without falling apart and breaking open in the store parking lot. Simply put, reusable bags are more durable and efficient than the throw-away versions.

This is the right move by Basalt, and indications show that Aspen and Carbondale will be implementing their own bag fees this year as well.

Ideally, we would like to see the three municipalities link arms to craft ordinances with similar language, in an effort to create a united front against wasteful behavior. It’s too bad government has to get involved by slapping us with this “sin tax,” but sometimes that’s what has to happen when we don’t change our wasteful ways.