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D.C.'s Bag Fee Strikes In Unexpected Places

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By Rebecca Sheir

It's been nearly a week since stores in the District that sell food or liquor started charging customers for disposable bags. The 5 cent fee is striking customers in some unexpected places.

Scott Evans just shelled out 5 cents for a bright blue plastic bag containing not food, not drink, but rather-

"A printer and some paper and a cartridge for it," Evans says.

Okay, so the printer's actually in a separate box. But the point is, Evans was shopping at Best Buy. The electronics store. Not necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of the new bag fee.

"I don't even like plastic bags, to be honest with you," he says. "But they did ask me if I wanted it. And I didn't have any hands, so I needed to have a bag!"

The legislation says the fee applies to "grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, restaurants and food vendors."

And all that candy in Best Buy's checkout line technically makes the retailer a "food vendor." Ditto on a sporting goods store selling energy bars. Or a department store hawking gourmet chocolates.

But that doesn't bother Natalie Oudar, another Best Buy shopper.

"I think it's a good thing,:" says Oudar. "I think it'll push people to start bringing their own bags, and less plastic will be used."

Of course, that's easy for her to say: the jump drive she just purchased was small enough to toss into her purse.

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