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16 posts from February 2008

February 22, 2008

These Days, Conservation is in the Bag

Contra Costa Times 02.22.08

Judith Morton fits the profile of an eco-friendly consumer: She worries about depleting natural resources, she recycles when she can, and she has three or four canvas shopping bags sitting at home.

Despite her good intentions, Morton's reusable shopping bags rarely leave her house, meaning that she still accumulates dozens of flimsy plastic grocery bags.

While thousands of shoppers have shifted to BYOB -- bring your own bag -- in lieu of answering the old "paper or plastic" question, many consumers struggle to make the switch.

"Our biggest concern with reusable bags is that people will get them and not use them," said Vincent Cobb, founder and president of Reusablebags.com, a Chicago-based Web site that promotes and sells reusable bags. "You're not going to fix the problem overnight. We've been programmed to shop this way. What's hard is not giving up."

Link: These days, conservation is in the bag

February 15, 2008

In the Bag: Reusable grocery totes are replacing paper, plastic

Colorado Springs Gazette 02.08.08

Paper or plastic? Neither, thank you. That’s what eco-savvy consumers are saying these days when they go shopping. They’re shunning both in favor of BYOB — bring your own bag.

Most grocery stores have their own branded versions. They’ve also proliferated online at such sites as Denverbased delight.com and reusablebags.com, the latter of which features a counter that flashes the number of plastic bags used this year — more than 51 billion and counting, the last time we looked. Also included are tips from reusablebags.com on how to become a more eco-friendly shopper.

Link: In the Bag

February 12, 2008

Plastic Baby Bottles May Pose Danger

Market Watch 02.07.08

A recent study has found that some popular plastic baby bottles are leaching a hormone-disrupting chemical that, when heated, possibly pose a danger to infants. The study, which focused on six major brands of baby bottles sold in the United States and Canada, found that bisphenol A, used to make polycarbonate plastic, was given off by heated bottles in amounts that were within the range shown to cause harm in animal studies.

Link: Plastic Baby Bottles May Pose Danger

Plastic-bag Ban Unravels

Los Angeles Times 01.23.08La_times

Los Angeles County supervisors backed off a threat Tuesday to ban plastic shopping and grocery bags. Instead, officials chose the weakest of five alternatives recommended by county executives: a volunteer program that leaves it to supermarket and store owners to coax customers into packing their purchases in reusable containers.

The action was a scale-back from a year ago, when supervisors ordered county lawyers to look into drafting a ban on non-recyclable bags altogether, much as San Francisco did. The 90-day study stretched into nine months, as grocers and retailers weighed in - the California Grocers Association, which represents 500 retailers in California and Nevada, had even hired a lobbying firm.

Indeed, with county executives prepared to seek only the voluntary measure, a last-minute amendment was offered and the final product approved by supervisors: A ban would be adopted only if the use of bags in unincorporated Los Angeles County did not decrease at least 30% by July 2010 and at least 65% by July 2013.

Link: Plastic-bag Ban Unravels

February 08, 2008

Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags

New York Times 02.02.08 & International Herald Tribune 01.31.08Iht_2

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags...Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Drowning in a sea of plastic bags, countries from China to Australia, cities from San Francisco to New York have in the past year adopted a flurry of laws and regulations to address the problem, so far with mixed success.

After five years of the plastic bag tax, Ireland has changed the image of cloth bags, a feat advocates hope to achieve in the United States. Vincent Cobb, the president of reusablebags.com, who founded the company four years ago to promote the issue, said: “Using cloth bags has been seen as an extreme act of a crazed environmentalist. We want it to be seen as something a smart, progressive person would carry.”

Comment: Ireland has paved the way. What other countries, cities or states will step up, find the political will and follow suit?

Links: New York Times & International Herald Tribune

Plastic bags tough to recycle, tougher to ban

Medill Reports 01.31.08

In Illinois, members of a recycling task force are brainstorming ways to reduce plastic bag waste but an outright ban on the petroleum-based bags is not likely.

However, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Plastic Bag Recycling Act, calling for a voluntary, two-year pilot program in Lake County to determine the cost to retailers who implement plastic bag recycling programs.

But some, like Vincent Cobb, are inspired by Ireland's "Plastax" example and think it could be implemented in the United States. "Retailers were resisting it initially, but at the end of the day they’re going to save a heck of a lot of money," said Cobb, who founded Chicago-based Reusablebags.com, which sells its own line of reusable shopping bags.

Our Take: Measures like this highlight the 2 extremes - on one side is a complete ban of plastic bags, which puts retailers on the defensive, and on the other is a mandate to recycle bags, which does nothing to curb consumption. We're interested in the middle ground, and advocate reusable bags which both curb consumption and limit the use of plastic bags.

Link: Plastic bags tough to recycle, tougher to ban

Plastic Sacked: Grocers, Shoppers Increasingly Turn To Fabric Bags

Hartford Courant 02.05.08

Whether it's about peer pressure, a deepening environmental conscience or a head start on the upscale grocery chain's campaign to ban plastic bags by Earth Day, far more customers are carrying their foodstuffs home in paper and reusable cloth sacks.

"It kind of blew me away with how quickly it took off," says Vincent Cobb, founder of Chicago-based ReusableBags.com, a cloth-bag retailer that has been advocating on the issue for the past five years.

Link: Plastic Sacked

In green effort, bagging options to narrow at area Whole Foods stores

ASU Web Devil 02.05.08013108_wholefoods_jl_web

For organic grocery store Whole Foods, the difference between them and the competition is in the bag. The national supermarket chain, including its two Tempe locations, will stop using plastic grocery bags starting Earth Day, April 22.

Plastic bag bans are gaining momentum in New York, China and Australia according to the advocacy site and online store reusablebags.com. Ireland began taxing the bags in 2002, leading to a 90 percent drop in the bags' use.

Link: ASU Web Devil

For Earth's sake: Say goodbye to plastic shopping bags

Journal Newspapers 02.05.08

Plastic shopping bags, your day is done. That's the overwhelming sentiment lately as retail businesses and lawmakers take strides to eliminate the eco-hazardous items from store inventories.

Here's the 411 on why plastic bags harm the environment, according to Reusablebags.com, a Chicago company that sells, well, reusable bags: Plastic bags, which are made from petroleum by-products, aren't biodegradable. They slowly break down into tiny toxic bits, contaminating soil and waterways and eventually find their way into the food chain when animals unknowingly ingest them.

Link: Journal Newspapers

February 02, 2008

CBS Early Morning Show

CBS Early Morning Show 04.05.07

A short video about the plastic bag ban in San Francisco.

February 01, 2008

Plastic Bags Blow, People!

The Chronicle West End Edition 01.16.08

Having lived in Europe for a decade, I find most of North America painfully slow in enacting the appropriate legislation to promote environmental sustainability. While Leaf Rapids, Manitoba and Huntington, Quebec may have banned plastic bags here at home, these are isolated and community-based initiatives; not country-wide legislation that could make a serious dent in the issue.

I recognize that, thanks to Hollywood and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", the environment has become a fashionable cause to rally behind. "Statement" cotton bags are all the rage! Last year's Anja Hindmarch-designed and much-hyped about "I'm not a plastic bag" tote, became an immediate seller, as fashion-conscious shoppers clamored to get their hands on one. I'm no better, professing a love for my "Plastic bags blow" organic cotton shopping bag, available from www.reusablebags.com.

Sure these bags have become trendy in a shallow and vain sort of way, but –again—I don't care how people come about their environmental consciousness, as long as they do and as long as every little decision and step along the way contributes to making plastic bags passé and a relic of the past.

Link: Plastic Bags Blow, People!

Bag the Thought of Paper or Plastic

Pocono Record 01.26.08Pocono

Reusable grocery bags might not sound very Earth-saving, but they can be if more people started to use them. Reusablebags.com launched in August 2003 and the site is very well-respected. It sells fashionable reusable bags in all sizes as well as featuring news articles and a plentiful amount of vital information about the environment.

"My advice to everyone is to refuse plastic whenever possible, reuse plastic bags you do get and use reusable shopping bags," Reusablebags.com President Vincent Cobb said. "Soon it will be odd to not use reusable shopping bags. This trend will get more popular over the coming years."

Al Gore, former vice president, talks about using reusable bags in his book and movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." Reusablebags.com was even mentioned and endorsed by Gore. As said in the book, "... carry a reusable bag and when asked paper or plastic, say neither."

Reusable.com has sold about 250,000 bags since the site started and it plans to sell tons more.

Link: Bag the Thought of Paper or Plastic

Paper? Plastic? No Thank You

Winston-Salem Journal 01.28.08

Reusable grocery bags are popping up at stores all over, and not only in places where you buy groceries. The bags have gotten hipper and more affordable, too, with many retailers introducing totes as low as 99 cents. Today, it’s not so hard to find one on eBay.

That’s why Vincent Cobb, the founder and president of reusablebags.com, is leery about the cheap, reusable bag trend. He started selling reusable shopping bags and baskets online in 2003. “The risk we run into with all these cheap bags is that people are just going to accumulate all these bags in their closet,” he said. “I think the big thing now is for people to find the good ones.”

Link: Paper? Plastic? No Thank You
 

Birmingham, Alabama area shoppers skip disposable grocery bags

The Birmingham News 01.28.08

It's impossible to count how many customers are reusing bags, but area retailers say they've seen an uptick in recent months. Plastic bags are an easy target for retailers trying to go green, since they take oil to make and fill landfills. But some experts say that the practice will stick around even after the fad wears off.

"There's a trendiness to it, but the underlying fundamentals are there," said Vincent Cobb of reusablebags.com. "There's something permanent in the society moving forward. And there will start to be a little stigma to the plastic bags." 

Link: Birmingham, Alabama area shoppers skip disposable grocery bags

Good Magazine: Totes are Hot

Good Magazine 05.07.07

Informative video about the dangers of plastic bags.

Thread Heads: Tote Bags (Video)

Metacafe.com 07.12.07

Thread Heads: Tote Bags - Click here for another funny movie.

Great video about bags made out of recycled materials - and how to make your own!