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9 posts from May 2009

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.

Chicago Bans Bottles with BPA Plastic

The New York Times 5.14.09   NYTimes

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a measure making Chicago the nation’s first city to ban the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups manufactured with a chemical that some studies have linked to disease.

Passage was driven by what officials here call federal regulators’ failure to take action on a grave public health issue.

The chemical, bisphenol-A, or BPA, is commonly employed to harden plastics, among other uses. Over time, it can leach into the contents of a plastic container, particularly one that is used in a microwave oven or cleaned in a dishwasher.

Link: Chicago Bans Bottles with BPA Plastic

Our Take: Huge news! Our very own Chicago takes the lead as America’s first city to ban BPA. We’ve been opposed to BPA in plastic, especially water bottles, for years. Let’s hope that Chicago will be a role model for cities across the nation and the world, limiting the use of this harmful chemical.

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

OUR SCOOP: Join the EWG Water Label Scavenger Hunt

ReusableBags.com 5.08.09 

By now, most of us know that plastic water bottles are bad for us and bad for the environment. But have you ever wondered about the quality of the water itself? Many studies show that bottled water is often no different than tap water.

One of our favorite non-profits, The Environmental Working Group, is running a special Bottled Water Label Scavenger Hunt to help discover what’s in our bottled water. Until June 15, simply collect and send labels, and you’ll be helping the group collect samples to test. Plus, you’ll be entered to win a free reusable bottle and reusable bag.

Here are the details:
- Collect labels from any non-sparkling, unflavored bottled water.
- Write down the name & location of the store you bought it from, date of purchase, and your name, email and mailing address.
- Mail to:
Environmental Working Group
Attn: Nneka Leiba
1436 U St. NW, Suite 100
Washington D.C. 20009

For more information, visit: http://www.ewg.org

Our Take:  Bottled water is a waste – consuming tremendous resources to produce, then sitting in landfills or littering our streets – and all for something we can basically get for free. Adopting a high quality reusable water bottle is one of the simplest changes we all can make. Learn more about the problems with plastic bottles here.

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.