"Paper or plastic?" is perhaps the last question you'll hear on the Emerald Isle, thanks to a 33-cent tax on each plastic bag that cut Irish consumption by 94% within weeks of its 2002 enactment, reports the New York Times. Cloth bags have become downright fashionable since, but strong manufacturer and merchant opposition has hindered similar efforts in Britain and LA, and laws elsewhere have met mixed results.
Why the success in Ireland? It doesn't hurt that little plastic is manufactured there, or that its hard-nosed environment minister made it illegal for shopkeepers to cover the tax and promised to tax paper bags if used in lieu of plastic. Plans are in the works to tax wastemakers such as ATM receipts and outlaw inefficient incandescent light bulbs entirely.