100 billion and counting....
The LA Times has a story about Ikea's challenge in charging for plastic bags at their stores and the gripes they are getting for their policy. According to Ikea, 100 BILLION (your eyes do not decive you) bags are used in shopping every year in the United States and less than 1% get recycled. I can vouch for how incredibly difficult it is to not get plastic bags. I do my best when shopping to use my canvas bags that I get from trade shows, but for some reason bringing canvas bags into a grocery store is OK, but into a Target seems odd.
But it go me thinking, we have deposits in California for Containers like soft drink cans and bottle watered, and people don't seem to mind. And when you shop at most grocery stores they give you a discount (or at Trader Joe's they enter you in a raffle) and people don't mind. But the argument can be made that you are getting a rebate so maybe it's not conscious.
An interesting experiment where you could really see how people think about money and it's relationship to the environment is for coffee. At most places if you bring a cup they'll give you a dime off. So for all intent and purposes you are paying for the cup if you don't bring your own. It's just built into the price as the default. What would happen if changed the default pricing model, say Starbucks lowered their prices by a dime and charged a dime if you used a take away cup instead. Would people complain? Economists say no, but my bet is they would. It's all in the framing.