Students get used to new plastic bag tax


Laurel Bowden

Seventh-grader, Anne Mitchell holds a plastic bag.

The Fairfax County board of supervisors passed a law to try and aid  the fight against climate change with a tax on plastic bags. 

The tax was put into place on Jan. 1, and stores in Fairfax County and other counties in Virginia were told to charge people for using plastic bags. The tax is for each plastic bag you use. 

“It’s really pricey with the price of groceries going up as well and now you have to pay for the plastic bags,” said an eighth-grader on the Yellow Jackets team, Medda Kargbo. “But if people pay for plastic bags less than they would start using more reusable, so there is a upside and a downside.”

The tax costs 5 cents for each plastic bag that you use. They’re hoping that by putting a tax on plastic bags, people will buy more eco-friendly bags instead of paying for the tax every time they go to the store.

“I think that’s a reasonable price because over time it adds up, and a reusable bag isn’t that expensive and it will incentivise people to use a reusable bag,” said Sebastican Valencia, an eighth-grader on the Explorers team. 

The University of Chicago performed a study back in 2017 very similar to Virginia’s tax. The tax was seven cents for every disposable bag. They found that people were more likely to purchase their own reusable bags when the tax was in place. They also found that in the next year there was a 28%  decrease in the use of disposable bags. 

“I think it helps out the government more than we think but I think it’s more of a positive impact than a negative,” said Husna Jalali, seventh-grade on the Legacy team. 

Some have different variations for the tax. Some stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have removed all plastic bags. Most stores still have plastic bags, but they also have paper bags. The tax is only applied to plastic bags, so paper bags aren’t subjected to the five cent tax. 

“I know that the Giant next to my house prefers us bringing our own bags but they haven’t banned them,” said Divitha Mathe, eighth-grader on the Wolves team.