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Washington shoppers have spent approximately $2 million on paper and plastic bags in the past year, one nickel at a time. The city's 5-cent tax on bags began last January, but consumers spent much less pocket change than predicted to pay for bags from grocery, liquor and convenience stores.
City officials had guessed the fee would raise $3.5 million to clean up the city's Anacostia River before the end of 2010, but it has raised a little more than half that.
City officials say they are surprised so many consumers appear to have changed their habits, bringing reusable bags to carry everything from milk and eggs to shampoo and toilet paper.