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Subject: Will that be nothing or nothing? rss

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Isaac Citrom
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So, I'm picking up some wine at a nearby Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). The "sack" is our provincial alcohol government monopoly. It's more or less the only place you can buy wines and spirits. The "corporation" runs many retail outlets.

I pay for the wine and wait. The clerk looks at me like I'm retarded or something. I hint, "may I please have a bag." No more bags is the response. Huh?! Not paper or plastic or what not--no bags period. It's more environmentally friendly. The clerk did however point out various models of reusable bags I could purchase for $2-$5.

I don't drink often so I hadn't known about the final phase of their program which came into effect 01-Jan-2009.

Well, since I'm not a big drinker, in the future I'll be making my purchases at the nearest Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Ontario's provinical alcohol monopoly. They still offer bags, though only paper bags.

I just love the SAQ's tagline regarding this, "this new feature makes it easier for customers to do something good for the planet." (my emphasis).

I hate being told what to do, but I hate even more being treated like a dumb fuck:

It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature at the other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down, denounce, and vaporize anyone who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty grammes. Syme, too-in some more complex way, involving doublethink, Syme swallowed it. Was he, then, alone in the possession of a memory? -- "1984" by George Orwell, cap. 5.

Yes, the nearest LCBO is about 100 Km away, but that's a small price to pay to help promote healthy competition.

All you dumb asses in America are droning away on how to best encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. Here in Canada, we've done away with all that bickering and completely bypassed the nonsense about incentives.
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Our local grocer is trying to do the same thing -- they still have paper and plastic (with a $0.05 surcharge), but are constantly upselling their canvas, reusable bag for $5.

Wal-mart, across the street, is selling their resuable bag for $0.99. The common solution has been for people to buy Wal-mart's bag and use it at the grocer.

I believe that San Francisco banned their plastic bags (could be wrong, but thought I heard that a few months ago).
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T. Nomad
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Here in Korea, the retailers take the boxes the foodstuffs are shipped in and move them to the front of the store. After people check out, they roll their laden carts to the box station, reconstruct a box with the available packing tape, load it up and walk to their cars.

And we get 5 cents off our bill for every bag we bring ourselves.
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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I can understand being irritated at an unexpected change--I would be too--but on the other hand... what they're doing makes sense to me, and it seems to me that you're just mad because it's different, and because of that you're going to choose not to see that it's better. If you're going to want to carry your stuff home in a bag, doesn't it make sense to bring a bag with you?

(I don't understand how a lack of bags is telling you what do to, or treating you like a dumb fuck. If the person who runs the store doesn't like bags, it seems like it is their right to not offer them.)

What if, next to the $2-5 reusable bags, they also had paper or plastic bags for sale for $0.05 each?
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Chief Slovenly
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Yes, because a bag surcharge is exactly the type of thing that should prompt an Orwell reference the most!

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Neil Carr
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I'd be quite happy if Vermont shoved through a surcharge on bags. Not a measly 5 cents, but something that will actually inhibit people from using them, like a dollar a bag. There is no incentive beyond idealism or a fussy and anal personality to bring in your own bags right now.

I can't stand plastic bags. They pile up all over the place at home. Last week I gathered all of the mounting bags, which has been squeezed into other bags and brought them back to the store to be recycled. The bags quite literally filled up the entire car. I had to go to four different grocery stores to get rid of them all, since they only offered up regular garbage cans to collect them.
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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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I started bringing an old printer paper box I grabbed from work. Since I have to haul my groceries up two flights of stairs, it makes things much easier anyway. I do like how my supermarket does it though, they give you a $0.05 discount if you don't use any bags. Although, I usually forget to take it anyway.
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echoota wrote:
I'd be quite happy if Vermont shoved through a surcharge on bags. Not a measly 5 cents, but something that will actually inhibit people from using them, like a dollar a bag. There is no incentive beyond idealism or a fussy and anal personality to bring in your own bags right now.

I can't stand plastic bags. They pile up all over the place at home. Last week I gathered all of the mounting bags, which has been squeezed into other bags and brought them back to the store to be recycled. The bags quite literally filled up the entire car. I had to go to four different grocery stores to get rid of them all, since they only offered up regular garbage cans to collect them.


Uhhh.... Neil? Seems to me anyone who has that many bags ought to consider that their excessive consumerism might be doing more environmental harm that Isaac would do if he got one bag for his thrice-yearly wine purchase. They "quite literally filled up the entire car" indicates several thousand bags.

I tend to agree with Isaac because I imagine his point is that eliminating bags does virtually nothing (or even less) for "the environment" than finding ways of getting a few more people to turn their monitors off at night... yet the PC psychosis that has infected virtually every strata of modern western culture now dictates we must be inconvenienced as proof we're not evil destroyers of an innocent and fragile planet.

If I was a kid living near that store I'd probably find someone who's car was stuffed with thousands of bags, appropriate them, and then sell them outside the store to irate alchoholics.
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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DWTripp wrote:
eliminating bags does virtually nothing (or even less) for "the environment" than finding ways of getting a few more people to turn their monitors off at night... yet the PC psychosis that has infected virtually every strata of modern western culture now dictates we must be inconvenienced as proof we're not evil destroyers of an innocent and fragile planet.

Where's the inconvenience? When my wife is buying groceries for the week, she takes along her reusable bag of reusable bags; when the groceries are put away, the bags are put away too. The cloth bags are actually more convenient than paper or plastic: they never tear, and they're easier to carry because they have sturdy handles.

So, no inconvenience, and a small reduction in the amount of paper or plastic which gets thrown away or recycled--what is the problem?
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Neil Carr
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DWTripp wrote:
Uhhh.... Neil? Seems to me anyone who has that many bags ought to consider that their excessive consumerism might be doing more environmental harm that Isaac would do if he got one bag for his thrice-yearly wine purchase. They "quite literally filled up the entire car" indicates several thousand bags.


I should have taken pictures. I could barely see out the back window. But it has less to do with excessive consumerism and more to do with simply slobbiness. I think that was a year's accumulation of the household bags. Everyone in the family are impractical people off in the clouds, and the mundane world of paying attention to how we transport goods between the store and the house is beyond us. We have a large pile of reusable bags we've bought which are either by the front door or even in our cars, but they are always forgotten.

So, it would be vastly easier on our family if the state could create a massive social engineering/tax burden system for the community so it could remind us to pick up those reusable bags before we head into the store.
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King of All Simians — Not a Mere Diplomat
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Surprise! I agree with the folks on "my side" on this one!

I've only recently become a reusable bag convert, and I've started bringing Tupperware to restaurants to box up my own leftovers. Yeah, it's environmentally friendly, yadda, yadda, whatevs, but more than that, it just makes sense. If I can reduce the amount of crap that comes into my house, I'm all for it, and I'd rather have my food sealed in a nice little package than whatever plastic/cardboard/styrofoam monstrosity they'd have me fill my fridge with.

Plus, it makes great sense from a "keep it in the black" bottom-line business perspective. Less bags or containers means less expenses for the company which means another million for the CEO's bonus, and that's something I'd reckon the corporate suck-ups around here can get on board with, right?
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CHAPEL
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isaacc wrote:


Here in Canada, we've done away with all that bickering and completely bypassed the nonsense about incentives.
.


Good deal! thumbsup

Here's hoping we follow suit.
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Chad Ellis
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As a mostly-irrelevant side note, very small surcharges (like $0.05 per bag) are probably less productive than some form of social pressure with no money attached. Small fees/rewards tend to shift our way of thinking about something from a social obligation to a financial transaction, and if the amounts are small enough they don't function as an incentive.

My favorite example is a communal day care (in Israel, IIRC). Some parents were picking their kids up late and the day care reluctantly decided that they had to do something to prevent it. They said that from then on there would be a $10 fine for late pickups. Late pickups rose dramatically. Prior to the penalty fee there was a social contract such that most parents felt bad if they were late. Afterwards, the trade-off wasn't embarrassment or a feeling of not having done the right thing -- it was $10. A lot more parents were willing to pay the $10 than were willing to feel bad.

A $0.05 fee per bag really isn't big enough to make most people say, "Wow, I really need to bring in my own bags," especially since those bags usually cost a few bucks. I suspect we'd have better results with no money involved at all.
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CHAPEL
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Chad_Ellis wrote:

My favorite example is a communal day care (in Israel, IIRC). Some parents were picking their kids up late and the day care reluctantly decided that they had to do something to prevent it. They said that from then on there would be a $10 fine for late pickups. Late pickups rose dramatically. Prior to the penalty fee there was a social contract such that most parents felt bad if they were late. Afterwards, the trade-off wasn't embarrassment or a feeling of not having done the right thing -- it was $10. A lot more parents were willing to pay the $10 than were willing to feel bad.


OR adjust the penalty to outweigh incentive. Sure one might be ok paying $10 for coming late...but $50? $60 $70 etc...at some point parents are going to get their ass there on time.
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Mark Hamzy
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echoota wrote:
I can't stand plastic bags. They pile up all over the place at home. Last week I gathered all of the mounting bags, which has been squeezed into other bags and brought them back to the store to be recycled. The bags quite literally filled up the entire car. I had to go to four different grocery stores to get rid of them all, since they only offered up regular garbage cans to collect them.


I, for one, would like to thank Neil for storing and recycling his plastic bags. I come across discarded bags far too often when I am outdoors. Obviously, they are eyesores. But what is irritating to me is that, when I try an pick them up, they fall apart in my hands.
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True Blue Jon
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Why didn't you just throw a tantrum until you got what you wanted? That seems to work every time I've witnessed it in the stores around here.
 
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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Don't be surprised if the motive here is not altruistic. I suspect that many places are manipulating the "green" phenomenon to cut costs. Not having any bags at the checkout is a nice way to save some cash. They might not care about the landfill one bit.
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Chad Ellis
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MWChapel wrote:
OR adjust the penalty to outweigh incentive. Sure one might be ok paying $10 for coming late...but $50? $60 $70 etc...at some point parents are going to get their ass there on time.


Sure...that's why I specified small surcharges. My point is just that there are often many forces at work (e.g. economic and social) and if increasing one unintentionally decreases the other you have to make sure you get the net effect you want.
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Isaac Citrom
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MWChapel wrote:
isaacc wrote:


Here in Canada, we've done away with all that bickering and completely bypassed the nonsense about incentives.
.


Good deal! thumbsup

Here's hoping we follow suit.


Yes, of course, until it's something that you don't like. Then the discussion is back to the many rights, constitutional or otherwise.
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CHAPEL
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isaacc wrote:


Yes, of course, until it's something that you don't like. Then the discussion is back to the many rights, constitutional or otherwise.
.


Well, this has nothing to do with "rights" or otherwise. It's a vendor that chose not to give you a little plastic baggies, and has agreed as a community to turn to green alternatives. You have every right to shop else where to someplace that fits your needs. You may not like it, and other vendors may follow. But your rights haven't been infringed upon in any way.
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Isaac Citrom
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The issue is not at all about the bags themselves as some people try to convert the meaning. There are probably hundreds of initiatives and decisions, major and minor, that face Western liberal democracies. Any and all can be mandated. Such places exist, e.g. North Korea. This is why there is any discussion at all of incentives, etc. Here we have decided that except for the most critical issues, we (not liberals) don't want to mandate behaviour. That's the very basis of the question, "paper or plastic?"

The "sack" (SAQ) is a government run business and they are a monopoly. They don't have to ask or suggest. They can tell. That also answers quozl's question about having a tantrum. The clerk would have stood there with a blank stare until break time, gone on break, and then return to the exact same spot to continue his stare.

As an aside, our SAQs are somewhat of inside joke that even the government gets. Because they are civil servants they are paid like them, earning up to $20/hour plus all the benefits that civil servants have accrued. However, these employees are really just stock clerks. My sons do the exact same job at our local grocery store for $8/hour. The government recognizes this and tried to change things. As you can imagine, the SAQ clerks were none too thrilled and went on strike.
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William Boykin
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Hey! I LIKE Plastic bags.

I use them for trash bags. No one ever said we should be recycling trash bags, now??

I also use paper bags as trash bags, or as paper to spray models.

I WANT those plastic and paper bags- cuz otherwise I'd have to pay for them myself- and I'm CHEAP.

As an aside...
Classic example of RSP'ers missing the point in this thread. Isaac's point is that isn't that lack of BAGS is bad. Its the fact that there was no CHOICE- the Bureaucrats in Montreal decided "We should get rid of bags" and that was it. And as a consumer, Isaac's only response is to either go along with it, drive to Toronto, or go without- because he can't get wine anywhere else.

I'm with him- to hell with the bureaucrats.

Darilian
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Chief Slovenly
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Darilian wrote:
Hey! I LIKE Plastic bags.

I use them for trash bags. No one ever said we should be recycling trash bags, now??

I also use paper bags as trash bags, or as paper to spray models.

I WANT those plastic and paper bags- cuz otherwise I'd have to pay for them myself- and I'm CHEAP.

As an aside...
Classic example of RSP'ers missing the point in this thread. Isaac's point is that isn't that lack of BAGS is bad. Its the fact that there was no CHOICE- the Bureaucrats in Montreal decided "We should get rid of bags" and that was it. And as a consumer, Isaac's only response is to either go along with it, drive to Toronto, or go without- because he can't get wine anywhere else.

I'm with him- to hell with the bureaucrats.

Darilian


They'll be killing babies next.
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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Darillian wrote:
Isaac's point is that isn't that lack of BAGS is bad. Its the fact that there was no CHOICE- the Bureaucrats in Montreal decided "We should get rid of bags" and that was it. And as a consumer, Isaac's only response is to either go along with it, drive to Toronto, or go without- because he can't get wine anywhere else.

Isn't that the normal, accepted relationship between the consumer and the commercial entity? They will do whatever they think will maximize shareholder value, and if you don't like it, you won't buy their products.

Besides, this whole CHOICE thing is nothing compared to the Orwellian nightmare I had to face when they changed the Pepsi logo. As a consumer, my only response was to either go along with it, switch to another brand, or go without--because I couldn't get Pepsi anywhere else.
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Commiserations to Isaac on living in a police state with government run bottle-shops. Bet they have less than optimal opening hours?

I've take to buying a carton of plastic shopping bags (10,000) and quitely dropping a couple hundred on the ground every time I go out. Any that are left over at the end of each month I throw in the river. I don't think that now, with AGW, is the right time for massive changes to the environment.

PS I have stopped recycling.
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