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HomeIllinois NewsWhere's Weyermuller? Frustrated with Chicago's Bag Tax

Where’s Weyermuller? Frustrated with Chicago’s Bag Tax




By Mark Weyermuller - 

Chicago needs to bag the bag tax. Earlier this year, the city council here implemented a seven cent per bag tax on each one given out for free by merchants within the city. Shopping bags have been free with a purchase since the beginning of time.

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea, for who can argue with saving the environment? Unfortunately, there are unexpected consequences. There has been backlash resulting in an immediate drop in sales especially at local grocery stores within the city limits. In addition, customers who purchase bags now have less money and of course are paying more taxes.

For the past two years, I have been posting photos of empty Chicago storefronts on social media. There are thousands of vacant commercial spaces throughout the city. This means the jobs are gone, along with the sales tax revenue. The bag tax does not help. 

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Stores like Walmart in Hammond, Indiana and in Lincolnwood on Touhy Avenue have plenty of "free" bags as shown in my photo below. Both these stores are directly across the street from the Chicago city limits. Customers have the option here to bring their own bags. That is the freedom I would endorse. The city needs to lower taxes, especially the 10.25% sales tax and the escalating property taxes.


Chicago has a declining population as indicated in a recent Chicago Tribune story. Last year Chicago Public Schools had a decline in enrollment of 14,000 students. I blame poor schools, high crime, high property taxes, lack of jobs, government corruption, and now, the bag tax.

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To further complicate and confuse people, it appears the city does not want people to recycle bags. One of my neighbors was warned NOT to put plastic bags in a recycle container. What is this about? 

Having the government micro-manage every aspect of our lives is not a good use of our precious tax dollars. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the 50 alderman need to focus on improving schools, lowering crime, creating jobs, fixing potholes, and lowering property taxes. Are we taxed enough already?  I say "bag" the bag tax. 



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  1. “Shopping bags have been given out for free with purchase since the beginning of time” – false.
    The paper bag was invented in 1912 by Walter Deubner in St. Paul. He sold the bags for five cents each.
    Plastic bags were not created until the early 1950s. The type we know today wasn’t invented until ten years later and were not common in stores until the 1980s.
    Before 1912? Well, we used baskets, cloth bags, and other reusable carriers. If you can’t afford one of those overpriced reusable plastic bags sold at stores, I suggest making your own. Stitching up the bottom of an old long sleeve t-shirt and using the arms for a handle is cheap, easy, and washable.

  2. Thank you fur comments
    I stand corrected. I guess I should had said “in my lifetime.” I do recall stores in the 70′ charging for heavy shopping bags but never was a tax. I can’t speak to Russian history, full disclosure I have had no contact with Russia in this story.
    Kidding aside, this tax hurts commerce.,later in July the soda tax takes effect in Cook County which will again take more money from our pockets and encourage more shopping elsewhere.,
    Perhaps cutting the size, scope, and cost of government with less taxes, less spending, less borrowing, and les regulation might create more freedom, liberty and opportunity.,, just perhaps.,

  3. Don’t you understand, the way things are done are changing and I’m not used to the new ways. This must be the fault of liberals and/or millennial whippersnappers. Everything should go back to the way it was done in the 1950s, or at least how TV made it look. #MAGA

  4. Most people reuse “free” plastic bags. We use them to scoop up dog poop, for example, instead of buying expensive “dog poop” bags at PetSmart. Reusable containers are also filled with bacteria. (Studies show that half of them are filled with coliform). People pack lunches in “free” plastic bags, line their garbage cans with “free” bags, and freeze meat in “free” bags (an extra layer over the cell-wrap).

  5. In many states you cannot recycle plastic bags in your home recycling bin. They clog sorting equipment and force hours-long shutdowns at recycling sorting facilities. Perhaps the city did a bad job of educating people not to put them in their bins before but they have never been recyclable at the curb in IL. Take them to Jewel or Target (or a number of many other stores, there’s usually a kiosk at the front).