It started innocently enough: A by-law adding a 5-cent fee to the purchase of plastic bags, to discourage excessive production of garbage. After a mild success in the first year, city council voted to increase it to 10 cents. But it wasn’t until the bags were banned outright that everything went crazy.
There was still a demand, but they had cut off the supply. We should have just found an alternative solution, but Econ 101 took over. Soon, 1 bag was at par with 1 dollar. And the value kept rising. People didn’t want money anymore. Purses and wallets were stuffed with old plastic bags, dug out from pantries and cupboards. You could trade them for any other product or service in the city; they were just as good as cash. The black market loved this. Criminal empires flourished on the illegal import of plastic bags.
A drive through the rich part of town revealed previously-flawless lawns now decorated with bags on sticks. Trash as status symbols.
Of course, no one used them to carry things anymore.