People with cars can keep grocery tote bags in the car, but think about the single mother who works and goes to school, lives miles from a big grocery store, and whose only transportation is buses. Carrying tote bags around with her along with her lunch, extra uniform, textbooks and whatever else she needs to get through her work day (or, often, work night) adds to her chores.
All this while rich kids are driving home from the mall in their own cars with useless frippery in plastic bags.
Many plastic grocery bags now have second lives as automobile litter bags, wastebasket liners, and for disposal of messy trash such as cat litter. If the supply is cut off, people will be buying new plastic bags for these purposes, thus continuing the expenditure of energy and natural resources.
If the problem is that plastic bags are not properly disposed of, or get mixed in with other recyclables, causing trouble in the sorting process, let’s focus on fixing that situation, rather than further penalizing the poor and the homeless.