54 posts categorized "Plastic Bags"

April 01, 2011

Hawaii-sized Recycled Island to be Built from Ocean Garbage Patch

Mother Nature Network 4.1.11

PatchDutch architect Ramon Knoester has an ambitious design that will turn the 7 billion pounds of plastic trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean into the world's most eco-friendly society. That's right. He wants to create a 100 percent sustainable floating island for interested inhabitants. The island made from collected debris will bob somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. And although the idea may seem unthinkable, Koester's firm, WHIM architecture, is already in the process of designing a prototype for the fittingly named "Recycled Island," reports Discovery News.

Check out the project's website for more information about Recycled Island, or learn about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch here

Click here to read the full article.

Image: Ingrid Taylar/ Flickr

Bulgarian Government Pushes Fee on Plastic Carrier Bags

Plastics & Rubber Weekly 4.1.11

Zx500y290_997092 Beginning as early as July of 2011, the Bulgarian Government will impose a tax of 0.15 on Bulgaria's leva  (Bulgarian currency - €0.07) per plastic bag, increasing to 0.35 leva (€0.18) next year, to 0.45 leva (€0.23) in 2013, and up to 0.55 leva (€0.28) a year later, reports PRW. The progressive legislation is designed to help Bulgaria, which has one of the highest per capita uses of plastic bags in the European Union, with the growing waste problem and proliferation of plastic packaging waste. The country’s environmental ministry hopes the fee will deter the widespread consumption of plastic overall.

Similarly, the Bulgarian parliament has also amended other refuse related orders, including regulations on packaging waste, automotive waste, the treatment and transportation of waste from batteries and accumulators and the treatment of end of life electrical and electronic equipment.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: John Nyberg/sxc.hu

 

March 30, 2011

Turtle Found that Pooped Plastic for a Month

Mother Nature Network 3.30.11

Main_turtle_16 One of the more disturbing effects of our over-indulgence and reliance on use-and-toss disposables rests in the significant health risks it poses to animals via marine pollution. Of the issues being discussed this week at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, one report that has experts talking is the appalling story of a sea turtle that ingested a large piece of plastic that became lodged in its gastrointestinal tract, preventing the turtle from normal digestion. After researchers dislodged the shard of plastic, the animal proceeded to defecate 74 foreign objects over the next month!

According to the report, which was issued by Seaturtle.org's Marine Turtle Newsletter (pdf), about half of all surveyed sea turtles have ingested plastic. 

See what shocking items this turtle ingested by reading the full article here. To access advice and follow conference events, visit the group's website here.
Image: Mnn.com

Some Grocers Abandon Rebates for Reusable Bags

USA Today 3.25.11

20110316__USGroceryPushingReusables~1_VIEWER Grocery store chains including Kroger and Safeway are beginning to move away from the pennies-per-bag rebates they once supplied, saying they don't do enough to prevent customers from forgetting reusables in their cars or at home. In order to avoid plastic-bag bans and taxes, which could potentially cost supermarkets or their customers more money, many chains opted for rebates (credits), but they didn't produce the results owners hoped for.

Company officials said customer feedback indicates most want to use reusable bags, but it’s a matter of making it a habit. Kroger is utilizing plastic bag recycling containers and sprinkling parking lots with signs asking, "Are your reusable bags still in the car?" Kroger also holds bag design contests and giveaways and sends shoppers coupons for reusable bags.

Read about our stance on the downsides of cheap reusables here.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: USA Today

Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away

New York Times 3.23.11

18opedimg-popup Persistently avoiding plastic may seem key to combating over-consumption and the production of plastic-based materials, but, in reality, the issue is far more complex. In a recent Op-Ed piece, Susan Freinkel, a New York Times contributor and author of the forthcoming book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, dispels the common misconception that suggests shunning plastic and settling for bag bans and fees will drastically alter the ethos of our culture.

Instead, Freinkel advocates for shifting the public perception of plastic as cheap and worthless to durable and profitable by eliminating its presence in disposables.

 Check out our "I'm not a . . ." or "Thank you" series, which offer affordable, sustainable alternatives to use-and-toss disposables like plastic bottles and bags.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: www.nytimes.com

March 22, 2011

Bangalore: Plastic Bag Ban Remains Ineffective

Expressbuzz.com 3.17.11

2011031763900301 Bangalore, a city in south central India, recently implemented a ban on plastic bags of less than 40 microns that seems to have little effect on Bangaloreans. According to the notification from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), March 15 was the deadline for banning such bags; but city folks were seen carrying bags of even less than 20 microns despite the ordinance. 

“Since a 40-50 micron bag costs more than a 20 micron-thick plastic bag, demand is always higher for the latter from medicine shops and small retailers,” according to a small scale plastic manufacturing unit owner as reported by Sohini Das

The previous provision focused on a thickness limit of 20 microns, but now the recent Plastic Handling Rules of 2011 mandates that manufacturers do not produce plastic below 40 microns in thickness. Without proper enforcement and continual awareness, shop-owners and consumers remain resistant to the newly modified ban.

Check out the full article here

Check out our stance on fees vs. bans here.

Image: Hindu.com

March 15, 2011

Plastic bag manufacturers sue Marin County over plastic bag ban

Plasticbaglaws.org 2.26.11

S-PLASTIC-BAG-BAN-REJECTED-large Following California's attempts to implement a statewide legislation to reduce consumption and distribution of plastic bags, Marin County and others continue to battle over effective methods of local regulation. Meanwhile, opposition groups like the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition pose a challenge.

Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (a plastics industry front group) filed suit against Marin County Feb. 24 over the plastic bag ordinance that the county's Board of Supervisors adopted in January, according to Plasticbaglaws.org. However, Marin County isn't the only one being targeted. The STPB has threatened and/or sued every California city that adopted a plastic bag ordinance after statewide legislation failed, leaving counties to consider their own bag fees and bans.

To read the full article, click here

Check out our stance on fees vs. bans here.

March 04, 2011

Hawaii County Council advances plastic bag ban bill

Hawaii Tribune-Herald 2.17.11

HawaiiCouncil-250x159 The Hawaii County Council advanced a bill that would make the island of Hawaii the third island to prohibit retailers from distributing plastic bags to consumers for free. However, the bill has been met with controversy as councilmen and retail merchants battle over penalty provisions and enforcements. In Kauai County, its council is already revising its bag ban less than a month after it went into effect in order to address complications that surfaced.

Despite controversy, Maui and Kauai implemented plastic bag bans January, 11, 2011, which have been praised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for reducing waste and preventing plastic from accumulating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, potentially harming turtles and other marine life.

Read more about out stance on fees vs. bans here.

Read the full article from Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Image:Change.org

 

January 13, 2011

Italy bans the bag in 2011

Treehugger.com 1.3.11

Italy-Ban-Plastic-Bags Earlier this month Italy took a dramatic step to reduce its consumption of single- use, non-biodegradable plastic bags – use of such bags is now banned as of New Year’s Day. According to several reports, Italy was one of Europe’s top plastic bag consumers – using about 1/5th of the 100 billion bags used annually across Europe.  

Despite opposition from some retailers who argue that biodegradable bags are too expensive and not as durable, similar bans in other countries have proven successful. According to Treehugger, China’s bag ban has kept 100 billion bags out of the landfill since its inception two years ago.

Bag fees have also proved successful over the years – from Washington DC’s recent 5 cent fee to Ireland’s PlasTax back in 2002.

While we applaud Italy’s effort to curb wasteful consumption of plastic shopping bags, we continue to advocate plastic bag fees and taxes over bans for the following reasons:

  1. Fees are market-based solutions that get people to change their consumption habits – and with a nudge not a shove. Even small, 5-cent fees make a huge impact.
  2. Fees are practical for the consumer.
  3. There is evidence that fees can be adopted in the U.S., and they work! We have an example of a major city (D.C.) reducing consumption of use-and-toss bags by 80% with a small fee.
  4. The money collected from fees can go directly toward addressing the problem.
  5. If you don’t like the idea of your money going to fatten government coffers, no problem. Bring your own bag, and they don’t get a dime.

Read more about our stance on fees vs bans here.

Read the full Treehugger article here.

Image: Guardian

October 19, 2010

Washington DC Bag Fee Update

CNNmoney.com 10.5.10

Ten months after it was imposed, the fee on disposable bags in Washington, DC still makes sense, although it's not bringing quite the revenue boost that the district was hoping for.

 

Before the tax went into effect, the district's Chief Financial Officer was projecting income of $3.6 million dollars. But so far income has only amounted to $1.3 million.

 

This is reason to celebrate; it means the fee works. Because people are required to pay for bags upfront, people are using half as many plastic bags as before.

 

Under the tax, district residents are charged 5 cents for each disposable bag they got at the store. One penny goes to the shop while the other four cents go to the city. The four cents going to the city go toward cleaning up polluted rivers. Those in charge of cleaning up those rivers claim that they have already noticed a reduction in bag pollution.

 

Read the complete article at CNN Money.

September 21, 2010

American Samoa Bans the Bag

USA Today 9.2.10

U.S. territory American Samoa has signed a law banning stores from handing out plastic shopping bags.

The law will take effect Feb. 23, and excludes biodegradable shopping bags and compostable plastic bags.

This ban was signed only a few days after California rejected a very similar law, although a growing number of California cities have taken steps to ban bags at a local level. Some of these cities include San Francisco, Palo Alto, Malibu, and others.

Read the full article here.

Our Take: We like their commitment to reducing consumption, however it's fees - not bans - that are the best way to go. Ireland's PlasTax reduced plastic bag consumption by 90% in its first year alone.

BPA Wiping Out Lobster Population

Lobster-die-offs Treehugger 8.11.10

Scientists at the University of Connecticut recently linked a major decline in the population of lobsters native to the New York coast with a rise in a few pollutants, including bisphenol A(BPA) from plastic waste.

The three-year, $3 million dollar study claims that a specific group of pollutants are working as endocrine disruptors. This lengthens the maturing lobsters' molting cycle, leaving them without chitinous armor for weeks at a time. This further results in deformities, increased susceptibility to disease, and in many cases, death. The coastal lobster population has declined 85% in the last twelve years.

Read the whole article here.

Our Take: Most of us have heard about BPA leaching from some plastic bottles. This article just offers further cause for worry. This data confirms the no-brainer advice we've been giving for years - avoid BPA as much as possible. And remember, it's not just plastics that pose a risk. Cans are another important source of BPA

Catastrophes like this come from decades of mindless waste and pollution. Buy high-quality reusables; they won't wind up floating in the ocean and they don't contain toxins like BPA to begin with.

October 21, 2009

Target Announces 5-cent Incentive to BYOBag

USA Today - 10.21.09

Target Logo
Target has announced it will start offering a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag customers use to pack their purchases. An earlier pilot test among 100 Target stores earlier this year resulted in a 58% reduction in the number of plastic bags used. 

Read the entire article here.

October 16, 2009

CVS Offers Incentive to Bring a Reusable Bag

NBC 10 News – 10.16.09

Cvslogo CVS joins the growing list of retailers offering customers incentives for bringing reusable bags. The company is implementing a green bag card system. For every four shopping trips with a cloth reusable bag, the customer will receive a coupon for $1. There's also word that Target stores are offering a 5-cent credit for every reusable bag used.

Read more about the CVS program here.

May 27, 2009

A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

Chicago Tribune 5.27.09

Your eco-friendly shopping bag could be making you sick, a study says. But before you switch back to plastic, you might want to consider the source.

An overly alarming 15-page paper, published on the Web site for Canada's Environment and Plastics Industry Council, concluded that reusable grocery bags are "a breeding ground for bacteria and pose a public health risk" because of high counts of yeast, molds and bacteria. Download the study here.

Our Take:
  What a joke! The plastics industry just won't stop twisting science and sounding false-alarms to justify our plastic addiction. A great level-headed article from the Tribune that turns a critical eye towards this campaign of misinformation, which many journalists simply regurgitate (one of the inflammatory articles we saw on this industry-funded study was titled "Reusable Grocery Bags May Poison You" - no joke).
 
Common sense practices like washing your reusable bag and using plastic when worried about leakage can reduce contaminants. When you're choosing a reusable shopping bag, avoid the cheap ones and steer towards high quality, durable bags that withstand washing. In countries like Australia and Ireland, reusable bags have once again become a part of daily life and they haven't experienced any of these health concerns.

Link: A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

May 21, 2009

OUR SCOOP: Seattle Bag Fee Vote Set for Aug 18 - We Need Your Help!

ReusableBags.com 5.28.09 GrBagBanner     

Two weeks ago, our founder got a call from Seattle mayor, Greg Nickels, asking for our help in supporting the Seattle bag fee. It's based on Ireland's successful PlasTax, which reduced plastic bag consumption by over 90% - the plastic bag industry is doing everything it can to defeat this measure.

Originally set to take effect Jan 1st of this year, the bag fee was stalled by the plastic bag industry – who’s spent more than $250,000 to preserve their interest in the mindless consumption of throwaway bags. They’ve been successful in stalling or diverting every major initiative proposed in recent years, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The Seattle bag fee gets voted on August 18 and we’re doing everything we can to support it.
In the six years this company has been around, the Seattle bag fee is the most important piece of legislation we’ve seen. Seattle’s proposed fee is a pure model – taxing plastic and paper bags with a significant 20-cent fee. The initiative will set a trailblazing precedent for cities across the U.S. if it’s re-instated.

We realize you may not live in Seattle, but please consider making a contribution. After all, the opponent's money is coming from outside Seattle. Let's show them that it's not just big industry that's interested in this race, but environmentalists across the nation as well.

Want to get involved? Here’s how you can help:

  • Donate to the Seattle Green Bag Campaign
  • Purchase from our store – We’ve committed to donating 1% of sales to the campaign between now and the Aug 18th vote.
  • Spread the word: If you’re a reporter or blogger, cover the story. Forward this story on to friends.  Don’t let these guys win!

Our Take: We’ll do everything in our power to defeat plastic bag industry interests and push through this landmark bag fee. If successful, Seattle may prove to be the tipping point for cities across the nation – and the world.

Listen to the voicemail from the Seattle mayor here & watch a great video they produced about the history of the plastic bag:

OUR SCOOP: Cydney Lewis Eco-Art

Cydneylewis ReusableBags.com 05.28.09

Local Chicago artist Cydney Lewis, and friend of our founder Vincent Cobb and his wife Marni, creates one-of-a-kind sculptures out of everyday items. Rather than throwing away plastic, paper, wire and wood, Lewis fashions the would-be trash into wonderful pieces of art.

Lewis's jewelry pieces are being sold at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art.



Link: Cydney M. Lewis art

Our Take: Another example of a growing trend we’re seeing – using throwaway items we think of as trash or a nuisance and turning them into something artistic. Artwork that repurposes our waste helps draw attention to the issue of consumption in a creative way.

A Cautionary Video About America's 'Stuff'

Storyofstuff The New York Times 5.10.2009

The thick-lined drawings of the Earth, a factory and a house, meant to convey the cycle of human consumption, are straightforward and child-friendly. So are the pictures of dark puffs of factory smoke and an outlined skull and crossbones, representing polluting chemicals floating in the air.

Which is one reason “The Story of Stuff,” a 20-minute video about the effects of human consumption, has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.


Our Take: Another great production from Free Range Studios – we endorse it as a wake-up call about how much we waste in our daily lives. The 20-minute video is quick and easy to digest & fills in the gap in environmental science left by outdated textbooks. We highly recommend watching it.

Link: A Cautionary Video About America’s ‘Stuff’

Watch the video here: www.storyofstuff.com

That plastic bag could soon cost you in Phila.

Philly.com 5.07.09 Philadelphia

Plastic retail bags may soon be a thing of the past - or at least, a costly luxury - in Philadelphia.

Under a contentious measure being brought before City Council today, shoppers would be charged 25 cents for every plastic bag they receive at any store. Businesses with more than $1 million in annual sales would give 75 percent of the fees to the city; smaller stores could keep the fees.

Our Take: Unfortunately, the Philadelphia bag initiative failed to pass through the Philadelphia City Council on May 14. Industry interests once again derailed a promising effort to reduce consumption. Like Seattle, Philadelphia’s initiative would have imposed a 25-cent fee on plastic bags, significant enough to curb consumption. Read more about Seattle’s upcoming bag fee vote here.

Link: That plastic bag could soon cost you in Phila.

Fairfax plastic bag ban brings change for businesses, residents

Fairfax Marin Independent Journal 5.04.09

The Fairfax Farmers Market isn't covered by a new town ban on plastic bags, but that won't stop it from doing away with plastic when it opens for the season Wednesday.

 

"We're a place that is designed to support a healthy and viable local food system, and the hard realities of plastic are very much opposite that," market manager Amelia Spilger said.

 

On Monday, Fairfax became the first municipality in Marin to ban the use of plastic bags at restaurants and retail stores, a move approved by voters in November.

Our Take: Fairfax passes a plastic bag ban - it's a step in the right direction, but we believe bag fees do more to change consumption behavior than bag bans. Click here to learn more.

Link: Fairfax plastic bag ban brings change for businesses, residents

May 04, 2009

OUR SCOOP: Kroger's "Design A Reusable Bag" Contest Is Green-Washing At Its Finest

ReusableBags.com  5.04.09Kroger

National supermarket chain Kroger is running a "Design Your Own Reusable Bag" contest at locations across the country. The winner gets $1000 gift card and may see his or her design on one of the 99-cent reusable bags sold in Kroger stores. As the second largest retailer in the country, Kroger is positioned to make a real difference in plastic (and paper) bag over-consumption.

Unfortunately, digging a little deeper reveals that the super-chain's efforts are another disappointing example of green-washing. Kroger continues to use plastic bags at thousands of stores nationwide. And the cheap reusable bags they sell do little to solve the problems plastic and paper bags. If the conglomerate was serious about cutting mindless consumption, they would follow in the steps of Ikea or Whole Foods - two corporations doing the hard work to kick our dependence on plastic bags, instead of using the now-trendy reusables movement as a PR opportunity.

Our Take:  In a sea of green-washing, our advice remains what it's been for 6 years - buy a handful of high quality reusable bags you will use for years from a company you trust. Read more about the trouble with cheap reusable bags flooding the market here.

April 30, 2009

OUR SCOOP: The Bay vs. The Bag

ReusableBags.com 4.30.09

A must-see video from San Francisco-based Save the Bay and Free Range Studios shows the tidal wave of plastic bags that threaten our environment, waterways and shorelines.

The group is mobilizing thousands –fighting for legislation to ban or tax all single-use bags in the Bay Area and throughout California. Haunting visuals and powerful statistics combine to inspire us all to kick the disposable bag habit.

Our Take:  The best video we’ve seen yet that wakes people up to plastic bag waste. We’ve been an active supporter of Free Range Studios and their powerful, cause-related videos designed to effect change.

Go Green, Save Money

IMG_5649-1 - resized The Oprah Winfrey Show 4.22.09

Our plastic bag counter was featured on Oprah’s Earth Day Show, “Go Green Save Money,” as a reminder of the thousands of plastic bags consumed every second around the world.

We were also listed in the “Going Green Resources” page at Oprah.com – for our hand-picked selection of 700+ reusables. Many were featured in the Earth Day Lunch Challenge, which shows Oprah encouraging people to switch from disposable lunch options to reusable ones. 

See the Green Resources Directory here and our Plastic Bag Counter here.

Palo Alto sued over plastic-bag ban

Palo Alto Online 4.21.09  Saveplasticbag

Palo Alto's crusade against plastic bags faced its first legal challenge Tuesday, when a coalition of groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the city acted too rashly when it banned plastic bags from local grocery stores last month.

Our Take:  The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition strikes again…first Los Angeles, then Santa Monica, now Palo Alto – the lawsuit-happy group may be stalling city initiatives to reduce consumption of bags, but all eyes are on efforts across the country to adopt reusable bags.  

Link: Palo Alto sued over plastic-bag ban

Plastic Bags Blow...and Illuminate!

Finndustry 4.05.09 Plasticbagsblow

My malevolence for the plastic bag was temporarily immobilized today while being delighted by the art group Luzinterruptus' celebration of  the vessel, with an "impromptu garden of light," installed near The Prado Museum. The installation, called “A Cloud of Bags Visit the Prado” was illuminated for a period of about 4 hours and included roughly 80 recycled baggies, which were inflated with the aid of the wind.

Our Take:  Who knew plastic bags could be something beautiful? We’re seeing a growing number of artists using the object of our ugly addiction to raise awareness about over-consumption.

Link: Plastic Bags Blow...and Illuminate!

April 01, 2009

OUR SCOOP: Plastic bag climbs remote mountain

Maunakea ReusableBags.com 4.02.09

Our founder, Vincent Cobb, films a plastic bag as it climbs a remote location in Hawaii: the summit of Mauna Kea, elevation 13,803 ft.

Another sign that even in paradise, plastic bags are simply everywhere. Watch here and here... 

"Green" plastic bag fee to go before Seattle voters

Seattle Post Intelligencer 3.30.09 SeattlePostIntelligencer

Seattleites will get to decide whether they're willing to pay a 20-cent-per-plastic bag "green" fee to help the environment.

The City Council on Monday moved to put the question before voters on the Aug. 18 ballot.

Our Take: After a lot of feet-dragging, Seattle residents will finally vote on the bag fee, originally set to take effect Jan 1 of this year. The plastics industry was successful in stalling it, but we hope they won't ultimately derail it. At 20-cents, this bag fee targeting both paper and plastic is a model for cities everywhere to reduce consumption.

Link: “Green” plastic bag fee to go before Seattle voters

Plastic? Time to Bag It.

DCbagfee The Washington Post 3.27.09

ELEVEN OF the 13 members of the D.C. Council are endorsing legislation that would place the District in the forefront of national efforts to reduce local pollution…

In truth, there really is no such thing as a free bag. The cost of bags is built into the prices consumers pay for food. And they pay again -- to the tune of $50 million a year in the District -- to pick up litter and trash, including a lot of plastic bags.

Our Take: As this editorial says, there is no such thing as a “free bag.” Bag fees reveal the invisible cost of paper and plastic bags, normally built into products in the form of higher prices, and give us all the choice to just say ‘no.’ Unfortunately, the 5-cent fee is way too low to change consumption behavior.

Link: Plastic? Time to Bag It.

Palo Alto passes shopping bag ban; lawsuit looms

San Jose Mercury News 3.17.09

"Paper or reusable?" is the question Palo Alto shoppers will face at grocery checkout counters beginning in September.

The city council Monday night voted 7-1 to ban plastic bags at supermarkets in hopes of reducing the stream of harmful litter in local creeks and the San Francisco Bay.

Our Take: Following in San Francisco's footsteps, Palo Alto bans plastic bags at supermarkets, effective Sep. 18. We like their commitment to reducing consumption, however it's fees - not bans - that are the best way to go. Ireland's PlasTax reduced plastic bag consumption by 90% in its first year alone.

Link: Palo Alto passes plastic shopping bag ban; lawsuit looms

February 19, 2009

Senate committee backs ban on plastic bags

Msnbc MSNBC 2.12.09

A proposal in Colorado to ban plastic bags at supermarkets and other large stores by 2012 passed its first test at the state Capitol on Wednesday…

The proposed ban is opposed by supermarkets, big box stores and department stores. The bill would not apply to smaller stores and franchise operations.

Our Take:  Kudos to Colorado for standing strong amid the plastic bag industry’s significant efforts, which have squashed many other city and state bag initiatives. And while we still believe fees are the best way to change consumption behavior, it’s exciting to see this legislation move through the state Senate.

Link: Senate committee backs ban on plastic bags

I Lego N.Y.

Lego The New York Times 2.02.09   

During the cold and dark Berlin winter days, I spend a lot of time with my boys in their room. And as I look at the toys scattered on the floor, my mind inevitably wanders back to New York.


Our Take:   A cool, artistic take on the plastic bag issue that also shows the ubiquity of plastic bags in our trees, cityscapes and landscapes, sadly.

Link: I Lego N.Y.

Taxing Plastic Bags, From Pennies Here to Millions There

The New York Times 2.02.09  Nytimesarticle

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a 5-cent fee on new plastic bags at the store register last week… The projected revenue for this “user fee” was $84 million — a sharp increase from the last figure floated, just $16 million.

That breaks down to one bag for every man, woman and child in New York City every single day of the year. The site Reusablebags.com estimates that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually around the globe.

Our Take:  We’re glad to hear the NYC bag fee has been expanded beyond grocery stores to include restaurants and other retailers – but we still think 5-cents just isn’t enough to change behavior. While the city may be looking forward to its potential millions in revenue, changing consumption habits is the true goal of a bag fee. Ireland’s heftier PlasTax cut plastic bag use by 90% in the first year alone! 

Link: Taxing Plastic Bags, From Pennies Here to Millions There

February 18, 2009

Reducing plastic bag use 'on target'

TheStar.com 2.07.09

Ontario shoppers carried home 269 million fewer shopping bags in 2007 than they did in 2006.

On the other hand, they still carted off a little more than 4 billion single-use bags over the course of the year. That's 316 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the province. And fewer than one in 12 of those bags found its way into a recycling program.

Link: Reducing plastic bag use 'on target'

Santa Monica: City Council delays ban on single-use plastic bags

Argonaut The Argonaut 1.29.09

The Santa Monica City Council was set to adopt an ordinance earlier this month banning single-use plastic bags from all retail establishments in the city, but postponed taking action…

A day before the meeting, the city received a 17-page letter from Stephen Joseph, an attorney representing SaveThePlasticBag.com, which is an association of plastic bag manufacturers and related businesses, stating its intent to file a lawsuit against the city after the ban is passed…

Link: Santa Monica: City Council delays ban on single-use plastic bags

January 19, 2009

The Surfrider Foundation wants to wipe out pollution

SurfriderNJ APP.com 1.18.09

Bill Rosenblatt picks up dozens of plastic bottle caps and cigar tips every time he takes his dog Happy for a walk on the beach.

All told, the former mayor has collected about 5,000 to 10,000 caps and about 2,000 tips from beaches in Asbury Park, Allenhurst and here since November.

"I'm really heartbroken," said Rosenblatt, a Loch Arbour resident and member of the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an international nonprofit environmental group. "What kind of oceans are my grandchildren going to find when they're adults?...Plastic is forever."

Link:  The Surfrider Foundation wants to wipe out pollution

'Trashion' Trend: Dumpster Couture Gets a Boost at Green Inaugural Ball

The Wall Street Journal  1.13.09Obamajacket

In the world of trashy fashion, designer Nancy Judd has hit the big time.

Ms. Judd spends her days in a studio here crafting clothing from castoff plastic bags, electrical wire and old cassette tapes...

The star piece: A man's coat made from Mr. Obama's campaign fliers. She says it took her 200 hours to cut and paste and sew it.

Link:  'Trashion' Trend: Dumpster Couture Gets a Boost at Green Inaugural Ball

Price meltdown takes the green out of recycling

Recyclingpile MLive.com - The Grand Rapids Press  1.04.09

Recycling isn't generating the right kind of green these days...

Just months after riding an incredible high, the recycling market has tanked almost in lockstep with the global economic meltdown.

As consumer demand for autos, appliances and new homes dropped, so did the steel and pulp mills' demand for scrap, paper and other recycled materials used to manufacture new products.

Recyclers across the country are finding it more difficult to find buyers. Some are describing the downturn as the worst and most rapid ever.

Link: Price meltdown takes the green out of recycling

January 08, 2009

A life without plastics?

The Chicago Tribune 12.27.08ChicagoTribuneLogo

Amid a recent flurry of worrisome reports about plastic, a simple question came up: Could we live without it?

I decided to try. For one week, I pledged to buy no new plastic and to keep the kids away from it as much as possible.

Our Take:  A great article by a working mom that shows it’s possible to make gradual changes towards consuming less plastic in our daily lives. She discovers the wisdom of reusables – and reinforces that none of us will ever eliminate plastic items, but every small step makes a big difference!

Link: A life without plastics?

Toronto votes for plastic bag fee, banning the water bottle

National Post 12.02.08 Posted_Toronto

After two days of debate and as many as 25 proposed amendments, Toronto council last night voted by a margin of three-to-one for a groundbreaking series of packaging-reduction bylaws.

Our Take:  Huge news! While Chicago implemented a bottled water tax in 2008, this is the first bottled water ban we’re aware of – congratulations, Toronto. Banning the sale of plastic water bottles at all city-run facilities is sure to put a dent in consumption. Unfortunately, the 5-cent bag fee voted through just isn’t enough to change consumer behavior.

Link: Toronto votes for plastic bag fee, banning the water bottle 

November 14, 2008

AUDIO CLIP: Dirty plastic bags

npr,  11.14.08Npr

Our founder, Vincent Cobb, joins Ashkay Rao, program director and professor at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, to discuss why not all reusable bags are created equal.

“[The 99-cent reusable shopping bag phenomenon] has become a marketing gimmick du jour, big time. It’s an advertisement for the retailer, so they’re very incented to get them out there. If they just sit and accumulate in a closet and you go back to taking plastic bags, then yeah, you have done a net negative.”

Listen to the interview

November 13, 2008

In Mayor's Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry A Fee

Bagfee The New York Times 11.07.08

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has called for charging shoppers 6 cents for every plastic bag needed at the register.

 If the proposal passes, New York City would follow the lead of many European countries and become one of the first places in the United States to assess a so-called plastic bag tax.

Our Take:  While we applaud a consumption-based fee of any kind, 6 cents just isn't enough to change behavior. The main objective of Ireland's hugely successful PlasTax was to cut consumption. This seems designed to create an ongoing revenue stream for a struggling municipality, while reducing consumption a little. We doubt anything less than 25 cents will work.

Link: In Mayor's Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry A Fee

October 22, 2008

Dallas council refuses to tax or ban plastic shopping bags

The Dallas Morning News 10.14.08Dallas_news_2

The City Council appears unlikely to tax and ultimately ban plastic shopping bags, despite a recommendation from staffers that Dallas do away with them for environmental reasons...


The plan [Eric Griffin, interim director of the city’s Office of Environmental Quality] suggested involved seeking state authority to levy a fee of 5 cents per bag on consumers in Dallas to initiate a ban in three to five years if the fee did not substantially reduce the number of bags used.

Our Take:

Dallas would have joined the likes of Ireland in passing a bag fee – the most successful government initiative to overconsumption of plastic and paper bags. As in Seattle, industry interests are effectively squashing the issue with misinformation and money, and legislators aren’t fighting back – whether because of a lack of resources or simply feeling overpowered.


They’re missing out: Ireland's PlasTax cut plastic bag consumption by 90% and generated $9.6 million in its first year alone, earmarked to improve the environment. Talk about a win-win (or in this case, a lose-lose).

Link: Dallas council refuses to tax or ban plastic shopping bags

October 15, 2008

Wal-Mart and Ikea aim to curb plastic bag use

Reuters UK 09.26.08Walmart_plastic_bags_4

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will give out fewer plastic shopping bags, and encourage shoppers to reuse and recycle them, as the retailer aims to slash its plastic bag waste by a third worldwide by 2013.

Environmental Leader 10.06.08

IKEA announced that starting this month, the company will no longer be offering plastic or paper bags at any of its U.S. stores. They will only offer reusable bags.

Our Take: Ikea’s plastic bag ban has great sound bite appeal and while we applaud Wal-Mart for doing some of the harder work to reduce consumption, cheap reusable bags aren’t going to solve the problem either. Let’s not forget, part of Wal-Mart’s strategy is to have millions of people carrying around reusable shopping bags with their logo. It’s a crafty form of free advertising for the company that shouts “Wal-Mart’s green!”

We’d love to see both retailers adopt some of the progressive tactics of other retailers – charge for plastic bags and offer a credit for any reusable shopping bag customers bring with them.

See our take on plastic bag bans and the problem with cheap reusable shopping bags. (10/20/08: Thanks for all of your comments - read our response in the continued reading link below.)

Link: Ikea Drops Plastic and Paper Bags in U.S. Stores

Link: Wal-Mart aims to curb plastic bag use

Continue reading "Wal-Mart and Ikea aim to curb plastic bag use" »

September 17, 2008

'Recycled' British plastic found dumped in India

Plastics & Rubber Weekly  09.10.08Prwlogo_4

Plastic packaging and bottles that consumers believe are going to local recycling plants are ending up buried in India, according to a UK news investigation.

[Reporter] Mark Jordan travelled to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and discovered wells of British-branded rubbish, estimated to be around 30 feet deep...Concerned locals told the investigation that there were at least ten such waste wells and that the pits also contained American waste.

Our Take: It’s an inconvenient truth that many items entering the recycling stream don’t get recycled. We’re seeing increasing evidence of recyclables getting burned or buried in landfills -- or shipped overseas. Recycling has its place in reducing waste -- but it’s no silver bullet (e.g., it doesn’t change consumption).

Want to learn more about why recycling doesn’t work for plastic bags? See our myth-busting article:Recycling Can Fix This, Right?

Link: 'Recycled' British plastic found dumped in India

August 20, 2008

50 reasons to stop using plastic shopping bags

MSN.com, 07.17.08

Shouldn't we all, with the price of oil - yes, they're made with oil - and environmental worries, be moving to reusable shopping bags and bins? Plastic shopping bags are a blight, and they never - for all practical purposes - go away.

Like that cool site that tracks the growth of the U.S. national debt, Reusable Bags shows the growing number of plastic bags used around the world. It's almost 1 million every minute.

Link: 50 reasons to stop using plastic shopping bags

August 06, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: Plastics are Forever

The Cleanest Line - Patagonia, 08.05.08

Maui native Micah Wolf teams up with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and photographer Ben Moon to create this powerful music video that empowers us to do something about the amount of plastics in our oceans.

MULTIMEDIA: Laysan Albatross & Plastics - A Deadly Diet

Monterey Bay Aquarium, 06.01.08Albatross_montereybay_2

Of 500,000 albatross chicks born each year on Midway Atoll, about 200,000 die of starvation. The awful truth—in their searches of the ocean surface, albatrosses mistake plastic trash for food and end up feeding Lego blocks, clothespins, plastic bag bits and a host of other man-made junk to their chicks. As a result, the large amount of plastic crowding the chick’s stomach leaves little room for food and liquid. The amount of plastic floating in our oceans has grown dramatically over the last fifty years. Anthony L. Andrady, a polymer chemist at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina says that plastic takes decades to break down on land, but even longer at sea because the water keeps the plastic cool and algae blocks ultraviolet rays. “Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere.”

Link: Laysan Albatross & Plastics - A Deadly Diet 

Plastic Island - Nasty, Gargantuan & Growing

ReusableBags.com, 08.01.08 Latimes_alteredoceans_3

A couple of websites recently caught our attention, each detailing the Sci-Fi-esque (but very real) floating plastic island located approximately 500 nautical miles off the California coast. "The island" is a grotesquely large patch of floating plastic trash held together by currents stretching across the northern Pacific almost as far as Japan. Discovered by Charles Moore, this "plastic island" is made up of about 7 billion pounds of plastic garbage.

Sea preserves a plastic plague - LA Times 08.03.07

The LA Times produced a fantastic five-part multimedia series on the state of our altered oceans. Part four delves into the “plastic island”, officially called a gyre. This disturbing presentation features great videos, haunting photography and lots of helpful information.
Link: Sea preserves a plastic plague

Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US - Daily Kos 02.06.08

Another great site investigating this mess is the Daily Kos. They feature an interview with Marcus Eriksen, one of the research directors at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (the same folks sailing the “Junk Raft”). Eriksen said: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."
Link: Plastic patch in pacific grows to twice the size of the US

The trash vortex - Greenpeace International 11.12.06Greenpeace_trash_vortex

Greenpeace created this cool, simple visual explaining “the island”—“Plastic trash and other flotsam that is either directly thrown or washed by rivers into the North Pacific, is swept up by the currents of a gigantic swirling vortex called the North Pacific Gyre. In the centre, the calm, just northeast of Hawai’i the result is a trash carpet that scientists calculate has now reached the size of Texas.”
Link: The Trash Vortex

Our Take: There is a similarity between this huge plastic island in the middle of the ocean and the enormity of plastic bag consumption. Scientists can't agree on the size of "the island" just like no one knows exactly how many plastic bags are being produced and consumed. The one thing everyone agrees on is that the scale of both is huge and deserves our attention. This "island" is the direct effect of our overconsumption. By achieving a significant reduction in use-and-toss items, we can actually make a difference. 

August 02, 2008

City council approves bag fee, foam ban

The Seattle Times, 07.29.08Seattletimes_bag_fee_approved_2 

On Monday, the City Council [of Seattle] approved a 20-cent fee, starting in January, for each disposable paper or plastic bag used at grocery, drug and convenience stores. While other U.S. cities have banned plastic bags, Seattle is believed to be the first to discourage use by charging a fee. Although the new fee may force Seattle residents to permanently alter their shopping habits, council members said the environmentally correct behavior will become natural, just like recycling.

The city plans to give at least one free, reusable bag to each household, and the council directed Seattle Public Utilities to come up with a plan by the end of November on how to provide extra bags to low-income residents.

Our Take: This is major news. Seattle is the first U.S. city to follow Ireland's lead in implementing a successful plastic bag fee model. We are confident that Seattle residents will alter their shopping habits quickly - reusable shopping bags will become an integrated part of life in the Emerald City and plastic bag overconsumption will disappear. Seattle City Councilmember, Tim Burgess said it best - "I think that after a few months of legislation, we will wonder what all the fuss is about."

Watch for the plastic bag industry to violently attack this fee based model since it represents the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Link: City council approves bag fee, foam ban

July 24, 2008

VIDEO CLIP: The Dangers of Plastic Bags

ReusableBags.com 07.23.08

Late last week, a fantastic slide show making its way around the internet caught our eye. Using a potent combination of facts and images, it tells the story of plastic bag over-consumption we first laid out at our web site five years ago. Its short, visual format provides an incredible tool to educate and inform.                    

We liked the slide show so much, we hustled to:

  1. Convert and post it as an easy-to-view video on YouTube, opening it up to millions worldwide.
  2. Discover who produced it and give them credit. It turns out to be a fellow Chicagoan! Vishal Mody - a public school teacher.
  3. Share it with you, our 80,000+ newsletter subscribers, and post it in our Newsroom.

Please take just 4 minutes to watch it and help spread the word!