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Chicagoans mostly grumble about city’s new bag tax

Marshall Taylor shows off the reusable grocery bags he used for the first time Wednesday at the Wicker Park
Jewel-Osco. The 7-cents-per-bag tax that took effect at city
stores Wednesday was an incentive for Taylor to bring the bags from
his car into the store, after months of leaving them in the trunk. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Chicago’s tax on disposable bags debuted to mixed reviews Wednesday.

Shopper Marshall Taylor said he narrowly avoided paying the tax at a Jewel-Osco in Wicker Park. Taylor said he saw a news report Wednesday morning that the tax was taking effect and finally put into service reusable bags from Mariano’s that he had been carrying in his trunk for months.

“I suppose it is good for the environment,” Taylor said. “I have had these bags in my trunk and they’re huge, and I use them for everything. But the tax is what made me bring them in the store today.”

Online reaction to the city’s bag tax was more negative than positive.

“From an ecological standpoint, this is great,” Roz Moreno wrote in a comment on Facebook. “I’ve used my own reusable bags for years. Plastic bags end up in landfills. We have to do everything we can to save the planet.”

Beginning today, shoppers in Chicago will pay a 7-cent bag tax on disposable bags provided by the store; they can avoid it by bringing their own bags. The new tax replaces Chicago’s previous plastic bag ban, which city officials say didn’t work as well as they planned.

A handful of large retailers and city officials are trying to assist Chicagoans with the new tax by handing out free reusable bags today.

Target’s 16 Chicago stores will give free reusable bags to its first 200 customers, and Whole Foods’ 12 Chicago stores will provide free bags to the first 1,000 customers.

During tonight’s evening commute, the city is also helping consumers get ahead of the tax by providing reusable “ChiBags” at seven CTA stations.