The Wall Street Journal 09.26.08
It’s manufactured in China, shipped thousands of miles overseas, made with plastic and could take years to decompose. It’s also the hot “green” giveaway of the moment: the reusable shopping bag…
But well-meaning companies and consumers are finding that shopping bags, like biofuels, are another area where it’s complicated to go green. “If you don’t reuse them, you’re actually worse off by taking one of them,” says Bob Lilenfeld, author of the Use Les Stuff Report, an online newsletter about waste prevention.
Our Take: This article starts out good enough -- detailing how retailers are jumping on the ultra-trendy green bandwagon, often without questioning the sustainability of these cheap reusable bags. (Ironically, cheap or free reusable shopping bags do nothing but fuel mindless over-consumption, which is at the heart of the plastic bag problem...)
But then things go south.
Unfortunately, the article makes it sound as if people are incapable of changing habits & remembering to bring their bags with them (quoting a very low number from a PB industry person, no less!). Bringing reusable shopping bags is no harder that doing simple things like remembering to turn off the lights when you leave your house (or water when you're brushing your teeth) – comparing it to taking 30 sec showers is extreme. The closing quote, from a woman buying a silly $45 bag from London, reinforces the stereotype that all reusable bags are trendy and impractical, and further clouds the waters.
To date, we've awakened millions and empowered 160,000 customers – all with simple practical products and tips to reduce plastic and paper bags – the flood of testimonials we get gives us solid evidence they're experiencing powerful transformative results. Reusable bags don't have to put fashion before function or be festooned with a cheesy "I'm so green" eco-slogan. There are basic, practical choices available that are being used day in and day out that do indeed make a difference. Trendy options at both ends of the spectrum are not the solution – and thankfully, far from the only choice.
Link: An Inconvenient Bag