Would you like a bag with that?

Supermarkets in Italy are very different from supermarkets in America. My supermercato in Italy would fit inside of one of the main aisles of Walmart. I would go every day, and buy, at most, 5 things. It was located down three flights of steps and across the street from where I lived. And at the end of every transaction, the son of the elderly couple who ran it would ask me the same question: "borsa?" And every day, my response was the same: "no." "Borsa" is Italian for "bag," and the reason why they ask you is because the bags aren't free. Usually they cost €0.05. They were almost always unnecessary because my carton of blood orange juice, bottle of chianti, box of penne, jar of sauce, and can of Fanta (my splurge—European Fanta is to die for) would always fit in my messenger bag, and, even if I didn't have it on me, would balance in my arms for the one minute walk back upstairs.

Beginning January 1st of this year, Seattle enacted a bag fee of 20¢ per bag. They also banned styrofoam take-out products. Los Angeles is banning all plastic bags in 2010, and charging 25¢ for paper ones. These approaches are slightly different from in Italy—there the bags are a luxury, here they're a taxed commodity—but they both have the same net goal of reducing the amount of bags that get used and wasted. I'd argue that, in Seattle's case, it's even more beneficial, as it is a tax and not a store charge—the stores gain nothing by selling the bags, so they're inclined to convince you to not use bags, you don't want to use the bags, because they're a financial waste, and, when you do use the bags, the money goes to the city, who hopefully will use it for enhancing their recycling programs.

Such a program could be enacted in Fayetteville, though I'm sure it would cause ire. I would support it. Hopefully the city council would, too. Seattle and Los Angeles are much bigger cities than Fayetteville, and they've enacted these regulations without fear of being voted out. I hope that Fayetteville can, too.