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7 posts from July 2009

July 30, 2009

Reusables Stand Out in MSN's Battle of the Bags

MSNBC Online

MSNBC takes a hard look at the impact of disposable paper and plastic bags. Their coverage includes information on emerging legislation that will force change, and it makes the case for environmentally-sensible reusable bags. Hang in through the end for a handy calculator that shows how many paper and plastic bags you and others are helping save (including the number of trees and barrels of oil saved, too).

MSNPlasticBagCalculator copy

Check out the interactive "Battle of the Bags" web page

Our Take: Interesting, interactive tool with tons of information. In the battle of the bags, high-quality reusables emerge as the winner again (versus the cheap ones flooding the market). Our ACME Workhorse was endorsed as a functional, fair trade replacement for plastic bags and our plastic bag facts used in their calculator.

July 23, 2009

Baltimore editorial writer asks for a "good kick in the fee department"

Baltimore Sun - 6.10.09

Public radio reporter and former Baltimore Sun editorial writer Karen Hosler wrote in support of bag fees:

“I need some help to break the disposable bag habit. I know those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags are a major source of litter on land and sea and that such debris can poison fish and choke wildlife. I’ve cringed at bags stuck in trees along the highway and twisted in tall grasses that line tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet, a reusable cloth bag languishes in the back seat of my car, forgotten until it mocks me when I return from shopping carrying more of the wretched plastic things.

Luckily, there’s new hope for anti-bag action from the nation’s capital. The District of Columbia City Council Recently approved a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags dispensed by groceries, restaurants, liquor stores and quick marts beginning in January. Amazingly, the vote was unanimous…”

Some bits of wisdom she shared: Bag fees are more practical than bans. Ireland’s success with the PlasTax should be heeded. Bag-fee campaigns should promote the impact on the environment. The opposition’s debate on class and income should be thwarted… and so on.

Read "Bag this Bad Habit"

Our Take: Hosler hit the mark with this one! As Ireland’s PlasTax showed, bag fees are a practical, proven and effective solution to the over consumption of use & toss bags. It’s exciting news that the fee passed in D.C., a signal that America is ready for this kind of change.  Bag fees are showing up on ballots across the nation, including Baltimore and Seattle. Show your support, spread awareness on these issues and continue to practice a reusable lifestyle.

July 10, 2009

New UN Report Points to Plastic as Source of Alarming Marine Pollution

UNEP/GRID Report - 2009

Plastic bag litterThe new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report Marine Litter: A Global Challenge is the first attempt to address the growing marine litter problem in seas around the world.  It was launched on World Oceans day, and UN Under-Secretary General/UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner describes marine litter as “symptomatic of a wider malaise: namely the wasteful use and persistent poor management of natural resources.”

He asserts that, “Some of the litter, like thin film single use plastic bags which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere – there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere."

Plastic is cited as one of the primary pollutants and greatest threats to marine life.  According to UNEP “Plastic – especially plastic bags and PET bottles – is the most pervasive type of marine litter around the world, accounting for over 80 percent of all rubbish collected in several of the regional seas assessed. Plastic debris is accumulating in terrestrial and marine environments worldwide, slowly breaking down into tinier and tinier pieces that can be consumed by the smallest marine life at the base of the food web.”  A study of fulmar seabirds in the North Sea found that 95 percent of them had plastic in their stomachs.

UNEP/GRID called for higher fines for ocean dumping as well as flexible economic incentives and deterrents to address the problem.

Download Marine Litter: A Global Challenge

Our Take: Once again plastic bags and bottles are singled out for their contribution to this problem.  Remember, all the plastic we produce and consume will last forever! Mindless over-consumption of use & toss items is at the root of this problem. -  it's up to all of us to wake up and consciously consume far fewer of them.

Bottled Water Contains High Levels of Contaminents

Environmental Working Group - 10.15.08

A study published by the Environmental Working Group shows that bottled water contains contaminants such as disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue and pain medication. Because these are found in bottled water at a rate no less than tap water (a fact echoed by the EPA) the EWG recommends consumers drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water.


The study draws attention to the tremendous environmental and social costs of bottled water:

 “Of the 36 billion bottles sold in 2006, only a fifth were recycled (Doss 2008). The rest ended up in landfills, incinerators, and as trash on land and in streams, rivers and oceans. Water bottle production in the U.S. uses 1.5 million barrels of oil per every year, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ resolution passed in 2008, enough energy to power 250,000 homes or fuel 100,000 cars for a year (US Mayors 2007). As oil prices are continuing to skyrocket, the direct and indirect costs of making and shipping and landfilling the water bottles continue to rise as well (Gashler 2008, Hauter 2008).

Extracting water for bottling places a strain on rivers, streams and community drinking water supplies as well. When the water is not bottled from a municipal supply , companies instead draw from groundwater supplies, rivers, springs or streams. This “water mining,” as it is called, can remove substantial amounts of water that otherwise would have contributed to community water supplies or to the natural flow of streams and rivers (Boldt-Van Rooy 2003, Hyndman 2007, ECO Northwest, 2007).”

Read more about the study's results

See the test results

Our Take: More proof that bottled water is a waste of money & natural resources!  Instead of spending money on something that comes out of your tap for free, take advantage of all the great options that make drinking tap water an even healthier option, such as any of our selection of BPA-free water bottles.  Pair a wide-mouthed bottle with a Guyot TapGuard filter for better-than-bottled quality water, or drop in a Nuun natural hydration tablet to give your water a boost of essential electrolytes.

July 09, 2009

Colbert Report: BPA No Laughing Matter

ColbertBPA copyThe Colbert Report - 07.01.09

Steven Colbert interviews The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof on the rise of endocrine disruptors in the water we drink – which has lead to reproductive malformation in aquatic species & puts people (especially pregnant women) at risk. A significant contributor to the levels of endocrine disruptors is a chemical used to soften plastics (BPA) during manufacturing. Kristof calls for government regulation of these harmful chemicals.

Watch the entire interview

Our Take: Great to see Colbert put his high-profile satirical clout behind this issue. Don't wait for the government to take action, avoid BPA, pthalates and other toxins whenever possible by choosing high-quality, safe products. Read our FAQ on BPA for more information.

July 06, 2009

Retailer's Bag Fee Cuts Consumption by 70%

Yahoo Finance - 06.29.09

“Four weeks after introducing a $0.05 charge for single-use grocery bags, Metro grocery stores across Quebec and Ontario (Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Marche Richelieu) are reporting that 70 percent fewer bags have been distributed in store, when compared to the monthly average.

Demand for reusable bags has increased by five times since June 1, when the fee was implemented. Such positive results will help Metro reach its goal of reducing the distribution of single-use grocery bags by 50 per cent by the end of 2010...”

Read the article: Distribution of single-use grocery bags decreases by 70 per cent at metro (06.29.09)

Our Take: We’ve long been in favor of bag fees as way to influence change in consumption habits. Usually, it takes government action (like the PlastTax or Seattle’s proposed bag fee) to establish a fee, but this is a great example of a retailer taking the matter into their own hands – and succeeding!  A 5-cent fee is generally thought to be too small to really change consumer behavior, but this example shows that every bit counts! 

Study Shows Significant Environmental Toll of Plastics

Yale Environment 360 - 07.02.09

The amount of plastic that will be produced this decade will nearly equal the total produced in the 20th century, and the substance is increasingly taking a toll on human health and the environment, a new study says...”Plastic-reef-100

A study of more than 60 scientists published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B found the ill effects of this rapid, worldwide accumulation of plastic to include: significant changes to hormones that affect fetal development and other physiological processes, ingestion of millions of tons of plastic debris by marine animals, transport of invasive species by floating plastic debris that remains in oceans for thousands of years and leaching of harmful chemicals into groundwater from the plastic in landfills, among others.

Read the article: Yale Environment 360: Environmental Toll of Plastics (07.02.09)

Our take: This study shows yet again that our fight against over-consumption of plastic bags is about more than just litter. Disposable plastic items are quickly accumulating worldwide with no end in sight, and the possible effects are staggering.  The more we change our habits to reduce the amount of plastic that will pollute water, endanger species and threaten our health, the better.