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10 posts from July 2007

July 27, 2007

First Lucky Store Opens in San Francisco and Introduces Stiffer, Sturdier, Recyclable Plastic Grocery Bags

Yahoo News 07.27.07

Lucky opened its first of 72 new stores in San Francisco this week and will introduce  reusable, recyclable plastic handle grocery bags, which are made from recycled plastic. The bags will retail for 25 cents each and will soon be available at all Lucky stores.

Our Take: With the popularity for reusable bags rising, we'll start to see more greenwashing by the retail industry. These reusable bags are actually produced by a plastic bag manufacturer, and made of only 20% recycled material. For some higher quality recycled bags, check out our recycled PET totes, made from 98% post-consumer recycled content!

Link: First Lucky Store Opens in San Francisco and Introduces Stiffer, Sturdier, Recyclable Plastic Grocery Bags

July 25, 2007

London Councils Push for Plastic Bag Bans

Guardian Unlimited 07.13.07

London shops could be banned from handing out plastic bags under a new law intended to make the capital more environmentally friendly. Council leaders have suggested an outright ban on the bags, or the introduction of a 10p levy, in a bid to reduce the waste going into landfill. The measures, proposed by the capital's 33 councils in a new London local authorities bill, will be put before MPs in November.

Link: London Councils Push for Plastic Bag Bans

Why Uganda Hates the Plastic Bag

BBC News 06.30.07

Uganda joins the growing number of East African countries which have banned the plastic bag in an attempt to clean up cities and prevent environmental damage. Currently, only a small number of the bags end up in city dumps. Instead, once discarded, they are blown in the wind, washed into drains and water courses and eventually ground into the earth. Uganda is blessed with some of the richest soil in Africa, but around the towns and villages it is laced with plastic. The government announced that from July 1 the manufacture, import and use of plastic bags thinner than 30 microns will be banned. All other polythene will be subject to a 120% tax.

Link: Why Uganda Hates the Plastic Bag

Oakland Prohibits Plastic Grocery Bags

San Jose Mercury News 07.05.07

The Oakland City Council on Tuesday banned plastic bags in an effort to reduce the amount of waste Oakland sends to landfills and to prevent the plastic bags from polluting the environment. The ordinance encourages people to bring their reusable totes to bag their groceries because of the devastating impact the plastic products can have after being used once and tossed away.

"It'll make a real difference," Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) said. The ban will apply to stores with gross annual sales of more than $1 million, which would include all supermarkets and chain drug stores.

Link: Oakland Prohibits Plastic Grocery Bags

July 18, 2007

Green Alternatives To Bottled Water

Cbsbottledwater CBS News 07.18.07

'Tap Water' Movement Touts Saving Money And Resources By Carrying Refillable Containers

Carrying a water bottle these days is like carrying a cell phone, house keys and a wallet: You don't leave home without it. But few of us stop to think about the long-range impact of all those bottles we empty over the course of a year...

Fast Facts
According to Jennifer Mueller, a spokeswoman for Food and Water Watch, an estimated 47 million gallons of oil are used to produce the bottles that Americans drink each year.

Click here to watch the video.

Link: Green Alternatives To Bottled Water

July 06, 2007

Plastic bag levy rises to 22 cents

Ireland.com 7.01.07

The plastic bag levy has increased to 22 cent today in a further bid to reduce littering.

The former minister for the environment Dick Roche announced the rise last February which comes after evidence suggested the initial impact of the tax in 2002 was beginning to weaken.

Statistics showed each shopper used 328 bags a year before its introduction compared to just 21 afterwards. However plastic bag usage rose to 30 bags per person during 2006. The levy is seen as one of the most successful anti-littering devices introduced in Ireland and was copied internationally.

It initially sparked a 90 per cent drop in the use of plastic bags.

The funds help finance local environmental projects such as recycling facilities.

Link: Plastic bag levy rises to 22 cents

Zero waste: Making sure the impact of a farmers market is all positive

LancasterOnline.com 7.02.07

In the perfect world of a farmer's market, the farmer picks and puts his crops into a reusable box and uses foot power to carry the goods to the marketplace. There, the customer buys the food, puts it into a string bag, walks home, cooks and eats it all.

Link: Zero Waste

Paper or plastic? Macy's won't ask

TwinCities.com 6.29.07

Paper shopping bags are the latest casualty at Macy's stores.

Sales associates have been told to use plastic rather than the ostensibly classier paper bags with handles, which cost more to produce.

"Seeing your bags flapping in the trees is one of the worst things you can do today to affect a brand," said Vincent Cobb, founder and president of Reusablebags.com. He said grocers and convenience stores - not department stores - are the worst offenders.

To environmentalists, the paper vs. plastic discussion is irrelevant. Americans use too many disposable bags, period. True, plastic bags do not biodegrade, while paper does. But when you factor in the trees used to make heavier paper bags, plus the manufacturing and distribution, it's a wash, Cobb said.

"The ecological footprint of plastic isn't any worse than paper..."

Link: Paper or plastic?  Macy's won't ask

Buying Into the Green Movement

01gren1901 The New York Times 7.01.07

HERE’S one popular vision for saving the planet: Roll out from under the sumptuous hemp-fiber sheets on your bed in the morning and pull on a pair of $245 organic cotton Levi’s and an Armani biodegradable knit shirt.

That vision of an eco-sensitive life as a series of choices about what to buy appeals to millions of consumers and arguably defines the current environmental movement as equal parts concern for the earth and for making a stylish statement.

Consumers have embraced living green, and for the most part the mainstream green movement has embraced green consumerism. But even at this moment of high visibility and impact for environmental activists, a splinter wing of the movement has begun to critique what it sometimes calls “light greens.”

Critics question the notion that we can avert global warming by buying so-called earth-friendly products, from clothing and cars to homes and vacations, when the cumulative effect of our consumption remains enormous and hazardous.

“There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we’re going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions,” said Alex Steffen, the executive editor of Worldchanging.com, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues.

The genuine solution, he and other critics say, is to significantly reduce one’s consumption of goods and resources.

Link: Buying Into the Green Movement

Will My Plastic Bag Still Be Here in 2507?

070627_exp_womanbagstn Slate 06.27.07

News reports have cited a statistic that the ubiquitous receptacles take 500 years to break down in landfills. How do we know?

Actually, we don't. Plastic bags have only been around for about 50 years, so there's no firsthand evidence of their decomposition rate.

So, where does the 500-year statistic come from? Although standard polyethylene bags don't biodegrade, they do photodegrade. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, polyethylene's polymer chains become brittle and start to crack. This suggests that plastic bags will eventually fragment into microscopic granules. As of yet, however, scientists aren't sure how many centuries it takes for the sun to work its magic. That's why certain news sources cite a 500-year estimate while others prefer a more conservative 1,000-year lifespan. According to some plastics experts, all these figures are just another way of saying "a really, really long time."

Link: Will My Plastic Bag Still Be Here in 2507?