Plastic or reusable? Roanoke bag tax to force the question Jan. 1

Photo 68858804 © Belen Strehl |

Soon after New Year’s would be a good time to rethink the two options for bagging purchases while shopping in Roanoke, one bad for the environment and one good.

Pay the city’s 5-cent bag tax that takes effect Jan. 1, and you can keep using fresh, disposable plastic bags at checkout.

Or you can kick the habit, bring your own bags to the store and pay nothing.

“Keep your change. Bring your bag,” the city says in its campaign slogan.

Officials hope the new tax curbs use of plastic shopping bags and their damaging environmental effects by creating an incentive for shoppers to switch to reusable bags, such as those made of jute, hemp, cotton or synthetic fiber.

It aligns with an expansive campaign against single-use plastics that also encourages carrying a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.

Large retailers support the plan, said Nell Boyle, city sustainability outreach coordinator.