“Go live in Wilmette if you don’t want to pay the taxes,” Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said Monday night, defending his proposal for a 15-cent bag tax in Evanston.

Reid claimed at the Human Services Committee meeting that the proposed bag tax should “make people proud of Evanston, that Evanston does bold things to make the community cleaner and stand up for the environment.”

He added that residents who took their shopping business out of town in response to the tax would be “shirking their responsibilities as citizens of Evanston.”

During public comment at the meeting several merchants complained that the tax would drive customers out of town at a time when merchants are struggling to stay in business.

Peter O’Malley.

Peter O’Malley of Beer on Central, who’s president of the Central Street Evanston organization, said the tax would be “punitive to all small businesses in the city,” when most, he said are already environmentally conscious and many have been recognized for their environmental efforts.

Ellen King.

Ellen King of Hewn Bread held up a paper bread bag, saying, “We’ve never used plastic. We use paper that can be composted.” She said the tax would really be a burden on small businesses to administer.

King said she’d be OK with a ban on plastic bags that the proposed ordinance would impose in 2024, “but please don’t tax paper bags,” she added.

Simone Oettinger.

Simone Oettinger of the children’s clothing and gift store Maya Papaya held up an empty Amazon delivery box and asked why the city wasn’t taxing those. “Online shopping has a much bigger impact on the environment,” she claimed.

Oettinger said the city should at least exempt gift bags that stores like her shop hand out as a form of gift wrapping.

“Evanston has a reputation for being business-unfriendly,” she added, “and this will send customers and businesses to other communities and online.”

Susanne Ali.

Susanne Ali of Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop said her customers are already complaining that they don’t want to come to Evanston because of the cost of parking.

Add the bag tax, she said, “and you’re going to end up losing even more businesses in Evanston.”

Noting that her shop moved across Main Street to a new location a few years ago, she added, “Next time we’re going to move, we’ll have to consider moving to other suburbs just based on this proposal and the parking fees.”

On motions from Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) the committee voted 3-2 to carve out an exemption for paper gift bags and to let recipients of SNAP or food stamp benefits escape paying the bag tax.

But a motion by Revelle to exempt restaurants from the bag tax failed for lack of a second.

The measure now goes to the City Council for introduction and action.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m just sick of being taxed to death in Evanston. Come on. In this economy, with inflation what it is, can we all just get a break? Just a little break?

  2. Every single person who spoke up agsinst this silly tax adds more value to this City than Devon Reid

  3. It’s certainly the height of irony to have a city council member who can’t even pay his own rent lecture us on our “responsibilities as citizens of Evanston.”

    City council members: please listen to these business owners and vote against this draconian bag tax. Don’t drive another nail into the coffin of local businesses by giving consumers yet another reason to shop out of town.

    1. A bag tax won’t make me move to Wilmette, but if Reid is allowed to continue as chief thief of the council, I’ll consider it. He seems to want to turn Evanston into a paradise for beggars, thieves and folks like himself who don’t believe in paying their bills.

  4. As a lifelong Evanston Resident, I resent that an Alderperson is telling me to move to Wilmette because I don’t want one more tax added to my bill. Perhaps someone needs to school Mr. Reid on the fact that being a good steward doesn’t always have to involve tax and spending. Mr. Reid needs to understand when you don’t have enough money you have to cut the budget somewhere you can’t just expect others to pick up the tab because you want it. I find him to be extremely immature, and unrealistic on the issues.

    1. Keep complaining about a trivial tax while others are barely making ends meet. Finally someone brave enough to speak their mind. Devon for mayor.

  5. Wow! What a confrontational response from Reid.
    What’s the future? A strong environmental stand and open spaces that once housed small businesses?

  6. If only he didn’t have a reputation as a rent deadbeat, we could send Reid to Wilmette and we could just remain here happily. This measure will have ZERO benefit to the environment because anyone can travel ten minutes to avoid it (and create more auto exhaust in the process). I do not enjoy being lectured about my civic duty by this uneducated man who does not understand this. City Council, please, please stop this madness.

  7. The bag tax is absurd. Reid can move to Wilmette. They might not be as forgiving as Evanston thought about deadbeats that don’t pay their rent.
    City council please vote no on this proposal. I think we are taxed enough in Evanston, Cook County and Illinois

  8. “shirking their responsibilities as citizens of Evanston.”

    Says the guy who hasn’t paid his rent in 9+ months. The SNL skit continues.

    Nice job 8th ward – this is ALL on you. You are the ones to blame, not us.

    1. Frank, by the numbers we didn’t all vote for the guy. I sure as hell didn’t. The general mismanagement of local government and anti-business environment here in Evanston falls on a lot more shoulders than just Reid’s. Evanston has been self sabotaging itself well before Reid and continues to in spite of him. You guys up north can take plenty of blame for the environment we find ourselves in. Watching your Alders enable enable him and his ridiculous ideas has been very frustrating watch.

  9. Hey Alderman Reid, if the small business owners and concerned residents here in Evanston annoy you so much, why don’t you move to Wilmette?

    1. It doesn’t matter that rent is higher anywhere if you’re a serial non-payer of such a thing.
      Devon, time to put on some big boy pants and shut up until your own house is in order before even considering anyone else’s in the city.
      Maybe Devon can move to the freelode-ita Inn and get the 4th ward in a tizzy too.

  10. It seems like reasonable restrictions were carved out. It feels like some people in this comments section are aggressively anti-tax without an appreciation for the value they provide to society. The extra taxes you pay today is more investment into the Evanston community tomorrow.

    1. The idea of the tax is to incentivize you to change your behavior- to use recyclable bags. It worked for cigarettes- taxes up, consumption down.

      1. So by that logic, everyone should pay. Why is it OK for SNAP recipients to pollute the environment but not the rest of us?

      2. Yes, but it didn’t hurt local business and this will. It’s bad enough with the parking situation. Stores can’t thrive here as they once did! Downtown Evanston used to be the place to go. It had everything (minus the liquor stores) It brought people to Evanston. Now? There’s barely anything. The cost to maintain a store in Evanston is utterly ridiculous. Do we want to lose what we’ve got over some stupid bag tax? Stores bring in tax revenue! Not a stupid bag tax!

    2. Phil, I don’t disagree regarding the nature of taxes imposed as part of a responsible budgeting process. This is not that. Reid himself said the tax would better incentivize not using disposable bags. The intent of this tax is not to generate a sustainable revenue source, it is to incent people to use reusable bags with a much, much higher carbon footprint than single use bags (which only offer a benefit if used hundreds of times). I support the use of reusable bags and use them myself, including the thicker disposable bags many Evanston stores now use, but this will end up just being an annoyance that gradually creates more incentive to shop elsewhere, harming local business and the actual sustainable sales tax revenues they provide the City. Evanston’s footprint is simply not large enough to have an impact here. It is far too easy to shop elsewhere and avoid the hassle. This is not a reliable source of funding by it’s very nature, and I believe it will also be regressive, impacting our less wealthy residents disproportionately.

  11. Reid: “shirking their responsibilities as citizens of Evanston”?!? But he can stiff his landlords over the years?

    To publicly shame residents and tell them to basically GET OUT if you don’t like is a well-worn bullying tactic and not befitting of an elected official in a public forum.

    To dismiss and disrespect our valuable business owners is unacceptable and will eventually backfire on Evanston.

    Reid: Do you have data on how much revenue this bag tax would generate along with costs (for all parties) of implementing? Likely not.

    The only way a bag tax can impact our environment is to make it retroactive 50 or more years. I know, this is a ridiculous thought, but not as ridiculous as Reid’s ideas and attitude.

  12. Someone who intentionally takes on an apartment that they are not willing or capable of paying for with the intention of not paying once in, is a textbook example of grifter and has no moral authority to be lecturing others on their financial responsibilities at citizens and has no rightful place in government. It takes a lot of gall to be proposing taxes on others when that person has chosen to consistently not pay their rent.

  13. Like another “politician” who will remain unnamed, Reid doesn’t care if the attention he’s getting is positive or negative, he just needs that spotlight on him. I’m not a shrink but it sure feels like narcissism 101. Look how many people attended the meeting to present their case about plastic bags, and Reid’s response is “Move to Wilmette if you don’t like it?” Are we sure he’s not a petulant 4th grader?

  14. Another consequence of taxing all bags in all businesses will be to create a barrier to those who use paper grocery bags for recycling at home. And, the proposed increase in the cost of living in Evanston will be an even bigger burden on lower income families. Those families may not have the luxury to shop elsewhere or “Move to Wilmette.” Yes, the increased bag tax in Chicago, and elsewhere, has had an impact on the local use of some plastic. However, Chicago is also facing a significant loss of lower income residents. The use of plastic wrapping and bags in our food chain is a serious environmental problem. But thoughtful solutions need to be developed with attention to their economic impact on residents. Here’s an in-depth article that offers a useful perspective: https://www.wired.com/story/should-governments-slap-a-tax-on-plastic/

  15. Alderman Reid, we’re already one step ahead of you. We are taking our spending money, donations, $15K annual property tax payment, and volunteerism to Wilmette as I type this!!

    And it doesn’t really relate to your silly proposal for a bag tax increase. Our move is largely driven by the patterns, areas of focus (and lack there of), and general lack of experience displayed by your City Council and Mayor.

  16. Panz aka Reid is enjoying the attention–negative or otherwise. Very Trump-like. The best course of action is not to feed into it. Vote him out and send him on his way. He’s had plenty of opportunities and is objectively incapable of managing his own life as an adult.

    1. No idea, but maybe Evanston could use the revenue to reduce its Trash & Recycling fees for residents and businesses.

      That would be a win-win.

  17. Wait a minute, don’t complainers realize that if we charge people more to shop at our stores, it will open a window of non-climate change utopia specifically right over Evanston? Let Wilmette suffer the drastic climactic consequences of cheaper shopping bags!

  18. I already quit shopping in Evanston because I’m sick of packs of panhandlers bothering and intimidating me. I shop in…you guessed it…Wilmette. Nobody bothers me there, and it’s easier to park.

    Evanston seems intent on welcoming and accommodating homeless addicts and mental cases. I didn’t want to move into a bad neighborhood, but it seems there’s a lot of support here for coddling them, at everyone else’s expense.

    The Margarita Inn shelter was well-intended, but naively planned. If you’re running a drying out clinic, the patients need to be supervised 24/7. Letting them run around loose all day, and drink alcohol in their rooms all night, will never get anybody sober, let alone employable and self-sufficient. Making no requirements to receive food and housing will change nothing; it just rewards current behavior.

  19. OK. I will. I’m committed to selling my house and moving out of Evanston. Reid is an embarrassing disgrace, and I can’t wait to leave him and this guy’s increasingly blighted city behind.

  20. I look forward to driving to Wilmette to buy everything I need so that I can increase my carbon footprint and simultaneously deprive the government of Evanston of this tax revenue.

  21. Just for the record, I live in Wilmette and SPECIFICALLY will shop in Evanston because I support their policies and what they do with their tax dollars. I feel BETTER spending money in Evanston. I’ll also shop in Wilmette, to help our tax base.

    Like many of Evanston’s policies, I agree with the move to a higher bag tax to help nudge people into the 21st Century, a time when plastics have been revealed to be a dire threat to the health of the planet we– and our children and grandchildren– rely on.

    Shoppers need to learn to bring their own bags. It’s not that hard. There are lots of styles that fold down very small. Keep some in your trunk. Keep one in your purse. Keep one in your backpack. It’s really not too much to ask in the face of what plastics (and the fossil fuels they’re made from) are doing to life on this planet.

    It’s important to set precedents for other communities. I wish Wilmette was brave enough to be “first” on some of the policies Evanston takes.

    1. That’s very sweet of you but for every one Andy, there are 10 others who will just choose to shop out of town to save the money. Shop owners suffer, stores close, empty storefronts and urban blight increase.

      I like wine and love Binny’s but I virtually never shop at the Evanston location because of the 6% surcharge. Same idea with the bag tax.

  22. Not happy to see Ald. Reid being antagonistic in this way. New taxes are a legit concern. Many feel taxed to death in this state and county. More importantly, this just feels like it adds to an already elevated state of political antagonism.

  23. Reid is a bozo but fell backwards into the right recommendation here. Bag taxes incentivize a positive action instead of penalizing people for shopping (ie sales tax and charging over market rates for parking in business districts). Add bag tax, provide free reusable bags to anyone that needs them and drop parking rates. No need to throw shade on Wilmette. Great town that is happy to take disaffected Evanston sick of watching our lousy school board destroy D65.

  24. If the goal is to help the environment, why a tax? Have the stores charge customers who don’t bring a bag(s) and keep the profits, why should this money come back to the city?

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