March 11, 2010

We Got A Bunch Of Bags

The new D.C. bag tax has dramatically decreased the consumption of plastic bags in grocery stores, and it will raise a good amount of money for cleaning up the Anacostia River. But it also affects our clients disproportionately more than many of those people who you might have read complaining about it in the newspaper. A nickel a bag really adds up when you're earning less than $7,000 a year — and reusable bags can cost as much as five dollars.

Bread for the City always strives to find ways to help our clients - so in an effort to help adapt to the bag tax, we are distributing thousands of reusable bags in our food pantry. And we are thrilled to announce that we have just received a generous supply of 5,000 reusable bags from District Department of the Environment (DDOE). (They are sturdy and handsome and they have information about the Census printed on the side.)

While staffing the pantry front desk, I find that our clients are well aware of the bag tax. Many of them have found the free reusable bags to be a pleasant surprise, since they can't afford their own. We hope to put at least one bag in the hands of every client -- no small task, as the supply of DDOE bags will pretty much last us just one month.

But we see promising signs that this, too is working: last week a client stopped me as I handed over a bag, saying: “I brought the bag you gave me back! I use it all the time. You can keep your new bags for someone else.’’

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