Whole Foods to Bag Plastic: Whaddya Think?

Maybe you've heard: Late last month, Whole Foods Market announced its decision to phase out plastic shopping bags company wide -- 258 U.S. stores, plus six in Canada and six in the U.K.

The plan, according to the press release, is to bag the plastic by April 22, which also happens to be Earth Day. Whole Foods will become the first plastic shopping bag-free retail grocery chain in the U.S.

The past year has seen a stronger push against plastic bags in pockets around the country. Last summer, Whole Food's store in Annapolis, Md. phased out plastic bags, spurred on by proposed legislation to ban plastic bags throughout the city. (The measure failed to pass.) But the first city to go on the books with such a ban is San Francisco, now in its first year of plastic bag-free-dom.

Plastic checkout bags are a relatively recent phenomenon; according to the Society of the Plastics Industry, the plastic grocery bag was introduced in 1977. Given its ubiquity, it's hard to believe they're only 31 years old. But it also means there's a plastic bag generation among us, one more chink in the disposable chain.

So what do you think? How does this grocery store development make you feel? Are you excited or appalled? Will this be a big adjustment or do you already have those 99-cent reuseable bags in your midst? Are you like me, for whom it took months to get into the habit of putting reusable bags in the car so I wouldn't forget? What kind of bagger are you, anyway?

No matter our position on the plastic-paper-reusable debate, the reality is, change is here, and we best not crawl under a landfill in denial. (For a dissection on the matter, check out the nifty graphic from the Home section.)

Take the poll below and add your two bags' worth in the comments area below.


P.S. When the Whole Foods plastic phase out takes effect, recycled paper bags will still be on offer.

One last thing: Today is chat day; join me at Noon ET to talk Mardi Gras, Lunar New Year and any other nibble-y notion.

Wednesday update: Read Jane Black's essay in today's Food section: Plastic Bags, Headed for a Meltdown


By Kim ODonnel |  February 5, 2008; 10:26 AM ET Food Shopping
Previous: When Food Connects Mind, Body and Soul | Next: Chat Leftovers: Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

Comments

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The Times just ran a piece on the tax on plastic bags in Ireland. Interesting.

"In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable -- on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one's dog."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/world/europe/02bags.html?em&ex=1202360400&en=fadef9626ed9e01d&ei=5070

Not necessarily suggesting that it should be done here. But I know I have become more aware myself... whether it is bringing a bag with me, or simply declining a bag for small/few items. And good gravy, our stores do seem to be bag crazy. However, I hear from people who work in stores that they 'can't win' -- if the don't give you a bag, or ask if you want one, people yell at them, and then other people yell at them for GIVING them a bag... which seems more a problem of civility than plastic, but the point remains. We need to drive awareness and thoughfulness about a host of things that would improve the environment.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 10:43 AM

Quite frankly, I'm indifferent. Plastic bags are useful around the house, but I'm sure I'll be able to source them elsewhere. It does make sense for Whole Foods to implement this policy, as its typical patron is probably more environmentally conscious than your average grocery shopper.

If anyone remembers, Shoppers used to charge people for grocery bags (paper or plastic), which I think is a good idea because it really forces people to bring their own. But they stopped charging for the bags. Probably because their competitors didn't charge for bags. Might not sound like a big deal but I live in Del Ray and there are literally 10 grocery stores within 2 miles of my house (3 of which are Harris Teeters).

Posted by: mediajunky | February 5, 2008 11:25 AM

I love my reusable bags.... When I remember to bring them to the store. I use the acme workhorse variety available at www.reusablebags.com because they are ultra-light and fold up into tiny packages perfect for the purse or pocket. They are more expensive, but are worth it for the portability.

I support this move from Whole Foods, but I do not support GOVERNMENT bans on plastic bags. When a store makes the decision, great. When a government, bad. It is not in the government's purveiw to control what is essentially a business decision.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | February 5, 2008 11:26 AM

For a long time, I always picked "paper" when given the choice. I actually find them easier to carry, when packed correctly -- however, a big problem is that no one younger than me knows how to do that anymore. They are also much handier for recycling, when you fill them up with newspapers.

Posted by: Cosmo | February 5, 2008 11:26 AM

Hey the plastic bags come in handy for the dogs. The "Greens" need to get alife and worry more about the effects of bottled water on the environment. Another reason i never shop at Whole Foods. Wegman's rules

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 11:26 AM

I was struck when I was at Whole Foods this weekend at how many rubber bands they used to close my already closed plastic containers (at least 7). While they're pontificating about plastic bags, has anyone done a study about the impact of all the rubber bands they use on the environment? We could go around forever about paper/plastic reuse and implications, but there are countless other packaging choices being made by Whole Foods that would have other impacts.

Posted by: Gburg MD | February 5, 2008 11:28 AM

My husband and I do not like plastic bags for groceries. We will use our old paper bags until they fall apart, at which time they are used to recycle papers. We also have several cloth bags that we can use.

I do wish that other chains would join Whole Foods in this effort.

Posted by: peapod | February 5, 2008 11:38 AM

I swear Whole Foods used to have signs up telling you to ask for plastic instead of paper. I can't remember the exact explanation, but it was something to do with paper being wasteful and traveling a long way. Does anyone else remember this?

I personally use plastic shopping bags to line my garbage cans, so I'll be annoyed if I have to start buying garbage bags.

Posted by: h3 | February 5, 2008 11:41 AM

I have a mixture of reusable bags I've used for 15 years and add to when I get another free one.
Problem: they are not standard sizes and the checkers have trouble figuring out how to fill them.
Plus, if I have something wet (like chicken), I like plastic for its isolation properties.
I use Trader Joes paper for newspaper recycling, plastic for the trash cans, and don't have to buy bags for trash.

Posted by: repatriated expat | February 5, 2008 12:23 PM

Overall, I think this is a great move by Whole Foods. I reuse my Trader Joe's paper bags each week when I shop there until they fall apart. I refuse a plastic bag when I only have one item. And I use what plastic bags I do collect to line all three trashcans at home.

Posted by: Little Red | February 5, 2008 12:27 PM

For voting, how about, "I don't shop at Whole Foods because it's too expensive and I'm not a hippie."

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 1:00 PM

I use my plastic grocery bags to line my trash cans, too. If they stop providing those, I'd have to start buying Hefty bags or something - is that really better for the environment?

Posted by: bk | February 5, 2008 1:03 PM

The Post did an article at some point that suprised me with the stats on cradle to grave energy use of paper and plastic. It made me recommit to bringing my own bags along as much as possible (although I still don't have it down for the random drop by the grocery store trip).

Of course that said, I do use the plastic bags I get to scoop kitty litter! The bags I would really like to stop using are from clothing stores and the like -- I never reuse those. I do recycle them, but could totally get on board with bringing my own bag out to the mall too.

Posted by: KitchenCat | February 5, 2008 1:11 PM

KitchenCat wrote: The bags I would really like to stop using are from clothing stores and the like -- I never reuse those. I do recycle them

****

Let me add to this, I would also like to get rid of the Washington Post baqs that my paper comes in every day. If we are having wet weather, then plastic is fine. Otherwise, whatever happened to rubber bands?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 5, 2008 1:34 PM

Anyone with a dog would be happy to take the WaPo bags.

I don't really care, other than to the extent it raises awareness. I much prefer paper, but clearly the baggers like plastic, since they always grumble about having to fold out the paper bags. Plus, the paper bags are much more easily reused around the house.

Posted by: ah | February 5, 2008 1:48 PM

h3: Paper bags use more resources to produce and transport. While they are biodegradable, nothing actually degrades in landfills because landfills are anaerobic. So you have petroleum on the one hand, and water pollution (paper mill) on the other.

My Post comes in a rubber band, most days. But then, so does my mail. So I have TONS of rubber bands and no real use for them.

And I have dogs, so we stuck with plastic bags despite our uber-green philosophy. But my MIL kept giving us those ridiculous rolls of dog bags for Christmas, so we acquired some reusables and are shunning plastic until the rolls run out. I'd never buy them myself, but since I have several hundred... If I ever get a yard I'll just install a digester and be done with the whole deal.

One other aspect to the reusable issue is that most reusables themselves are made of polypropylene--plastic. But they are more durable (and often have to be purchased), so people do use them more than once, while plastic grocery bags are light, flimsy, and easily discarded without thought. Also the issue of them blowing away and being unsightly litter (and killing turtles and other marine life when they get into the ocean). Polypro is also more easily recycled than regular grocery bag plastic.

Posted by: rallycap | February 5, 2008 2:03 PM

I started using reusable bags after I heard about the area in the Pacific Ocean about the size of Texas and a mile deep filled with plastic bags that got away.

Posted by: Fran | February 5, 2008 2:07 PM

Unfortunately, the issue of paper vs plastic is not simple. The Washington Post online has a graphic on its Home and Garden page that outlines the pros and cons of plastic and paper. In short, while plastic never biodegrades, producing paper creates more pollution and uses more energy in production, delivery, and recycling than plastic. The best solution is reusable bags, but mandates (government or private) are rarely a good idea. Instead, I would like to see grocery stores start charging a small fee for paper and plastic bags, while also selling inexpensive, durable reusable bags like the ones my wife and I got at Harris Teeter for $1. Given the opportunity, and incentive of paying for disposable bags, people would purchase the reusable bags, but would still have an option if they forget the reusable bag.

Posted by: Jerry | February 5, 2008 2:13 PM

I reuse plastic and paper bags for various reasons and recycle the extras of them both. I do most of my shopping at the commissary where we have our choice of paper or plastic (when they have both) so I make my choice depending on what I need at home or what I'm buying. I do refuse a bag when it is a small purchase or already in a bag. I recently bought a "permanent" bag but have not yet gotten into the habit to bring it when I'm "just picking up a few things."

Some time ago, the commissary asked us to recycle our paper bags because of the cost whereupon i bagged my bags and returned with them the following week. At some time I stopped, mostlikely when recycling in Montgomery County became a reality.

Posted by: Wheaton | February 5, 2008 2:13 PM

I 2nd the WaPo bags comment -- get rid of 'em on dry days. For dog owners (myself included) they make biodegradable bags which we should use -- except that maybe nothing degrades in a landfill anyways? Wonder what a digester is... For trash can liners, I dunno, I am confounded but since I started carrying my own bags about 6 months ago I have begun using bags other stuff comes in to line my trash bags, like my dog food bags, if you get my drift. Biodegradable bags won't work in trash cans bz of the wet trash...too messy...altho I do want to start composting. San Fran has curbside composting! I am so jealous. For the poster who wants to have a bag for shopping, you just have to get used to tucking one inside your purse, if you are female, if you are male and sans manbag, maybe always have a backpack?

Posted by: SurelyYouNest | February 5, 2008 2:14 PM

I usually take my own bags, since I find them easier to carry (the handles never rip off). But I do need the plastic bags for cat litter! And the ones at whole foods seem to be less likely to have holes in them than the bags from other stores, so I'll miss them.

Posted by: va | February 5, 2008 2:14 PM

I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and have both of their reusable bags. Of course being a single gal, it is easier for me to pack a week's worth of groceries in one bag.

Posted by: Me | February 5, 2008 2:15 PM

SurelyYouNest: A digester is like a little septic tank. Drop the poop in it along with some natural enzymes and water and it just dissolves. One brand is Doggie Dooley.

Posted by: rallycap | February 5, 2008 2:24 PM

Whole foods and the Co-op I go to give me 10 cents off when I bring my reusable bag. Once a week for the last three years, the reusable bag that WF gave me as a promotion in 2005 has probably saved me $15. Not a lot, but I'll take it. My city is cranky about the recycling, though, and will only take curbside recylcables in paper bags. We've been trying to get around this, but we still need a couple of paper bags per week.

Posted by: MaryL | February 5, 2008 2:36 PM

When I lived in the UK, you had to pay for your grocery bags or bring your own. It was about 10 cents (I think, in 1986), so if you did forget to bring a reusable, it wasn't going to bankrupt you. I like that the choice was in the hands of the consumer. Department stores, as I recall, used heavier plastic than you see now, so the bags could be reused for quite a while.

Posted by: TriciaGray | February 5, 2008 2:47 PM

What do you mean "When will Giant join the party?" We have had our cloth Giant bags for more than six months now and get money back every week when we use them. They were a gift from Giant and we ought some omore. Have a "top banana" logo on the side.

But when plastic bags are recycled they are fine.

Posted by: Gary E. Masters | February 5, 2008 2:48 PM

Kim, thanks so much for raising awareness of this issue. The Home section graphic is really nifty, I saved it when I first saw it.

Posted by: Ed | February 5, 2008 2:48 PM

I'd like to second the following post:

I use my plastic grocery bags to line my trash cans, too. If they stop providing those, I'd have to start buying Hefty bags or something - is that really better for the environment?

Posted by: bk | February 5, 2008 01:03 PM

I feel the same way - plastic grocery bags do to line my small, apartment-sized trash can. I feel this is a decent way to reuse them and not purchase other Hefty-style bags.

I'd be curious to know what others use to line their trash cans and if there is some better thing out there (than Hefty bags).

Posted by: Sarah | February 5, 2008 2:55 PM

I hate plastic bags, but I can't get in the habit of carrying bags with me. Every time I go in a store I kick myself for not having a bag with me.

For the dog, we have a doggy septic system. The cat litter still goes in grocery bags b/c I haven't figured out a better way (and our cat *hates* flushable litters).

In my community, the recycling people insist that all recyclables have to be bagged b/c they are collected in open trucks. Originally, they told me I needed "blue bags." I asked where I got these special bags, thinking they were provided. But no, the local grocery store uses blue plastic bags, and that was their preference. We collect glass and plastic in larger grocery bags, but we have to tie a blue bag to the recycling can or else they won't pick it up. Found that out the hard way (and that the recycling people can't read).

If I am only buying a few things, I usually turn down a bag. What really bugs me is a couple of places have insisted I needed to have a bag so the security folks would know I paid for the item. I point out that the receipt serves that purpose, but Sears, in particular, insisted. A huge bag for a little sewing machine foot, too.

Posted by: RT | February 5, 2008 3:00 PM

I "third" it, if you live in an apartment building with a garbage shoot, you have to put your garbage in a bag. So am I suppose to buy plastic bags now instead of reusing grocery bags?

Posted by: JM | February 5, 2008 3:01 PM

i also have the acme workhorse bags (from www.reusablebags.com). as the earlier poster said, they are more expensive - but worth it to me! i used to always forget to bring reusable bags to the store with me, but the acme bags fold up so small that i can carry them with me all the time. two in my purse, one in the car, one in my husband's coat pocket. we don't forget to bring them with us and they hold a ton. that being said, i do wonder what i'll do when i run out of the old plastic grocery bags that i use as trash bags.

Posted by: gk | February 5, 2008 3:08 PM

So many people have asked: "what will I do with my trash if I don't have plastic grocery bags?"

Perhaps ask your mom what she did before plastic grocery bags were invented?

Then again, my parents used to be able to burn their trash...

Posted by: wdc | February 5, 2008 3:30 PM

Not meaning to gross anybody out, but I want to remind people that paper grocery bags are notorious for being infested with roaches, which you unwittingly transport into your house.

I recycle the plastic bags, and would rather have them available than spend money on manufactured trash bags. It's bad enough having the grocery prices mount up and up without having to spend even more money for trash.

Posted by: Jody Warnke | February 5, 2008 3:54 PM

We put out part of our trash in plastic grocery bags. I use a couple re-usable mesh bags some of the time, to reduce the number of plastic ones. Paper bags from Trader Joe are good for recycling newspapers and other paper recycling. If some plastic and paper bags are not re-used they can be recycled.

I don't feel that there is an emergency that calls for drastic change. The plastic bags are strong and serve their purpose when they are needed.

Posted by: Jim in Gaithersburg | February 5, 2008 3:56 PM

I love this move by Whole Foods. A few plastic bags will make it into our house no matter what we do, so that takes care of our miscellaneous garbage cans. Those that do, and that multiply like a bunch of rabbits, are periodically recycled at our grocery store.

However, I've been looking to get on the ball and buy some reuseable bags for grocery shopping. Please check this site:

www.reuseablebags.com

A lot of nifty options, some of which are small enough to carry around with you all of the time so you'll always have one when you're out shopping.

They also have a petition/letter that you can copy and email to your large grocery store chains encouraging them to either start charging for bags, or to eliminate them altogether.

Peace.

Posted by: erin | February 5, 2008 4:05 PM

I recently switched over to reusable bags because using plastic bags started to seem really wasteful. But, I don't think we're going to see any meaningful change in consumer habits unless there are monetary costs associated with using paper or plastic bags. I do think, though, that businesses are trending towards charging to use bags. Ikea charges a nominal fee per bag, some grocery stores, but we'll need to reach a tipping point before it catches on.

Posted by: M Street | February 5, 2008 4:27 PM

As KitchenCat stated, reusing those bags from department stores and clothing stores is a bit more challenging. I use mine to haul stuff to Goodwill, re-use them at the store itself, and carry extra things to work. So slowly they are getting used up.

Posted by: Little Red | February 5, 2008 5:44 PM

I like this move by Whole Foods. If the Chinese can ban plastic bags, we ought to be able to reduce use. I just wish I could remember to bring some bags with me.

Posted by: Dave | February 5, 2008 7:06 PM

Living in possibly the Hippie capital of the East coast (Ithaca, NY) I have noticed that a lot of local places have been moving to using corn based plastic substitutes instead of plastic. A lot of restaurants give out biodegradable silverware and corn based cups that are almost identical to plastic in durability, look and feel. I am sure if supermarket bags from corn have not already been made I bet they are not far off. I think they would make a better substitute for our trash bags/litter/doggie bags.
I miss Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. One would think a town as progressive as this might be interested in courting their business, even if they are evil chain stores and would compete with the local organic Greenstar Grocer. Wegmans just does not compare.

Posted by: That Guy | February 5, 2008 7:09 PM

You said - "I started using reusable bags after I heard about the area in the Pacific Ocean about the size of Texas and a mile deep filled with plastic bags that got away."

It just gets better and better, see this .....

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-garbage-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html

Posted by: TonyR | February 5, 2008 7:42 PM

I'm all for it. Do you know that certain grocery stores's bags carry those little irritating bugs the live in rice, spices and other starches!?? Yuck!! I've had an issue with it in the past and I'm always told that they come from the plastic bags from any given grocery store.

I'm for going "green" and doing away with unnecessary production and waste.

www.flanboyanteats.com

Posted by: FlaNBoyant Eats | February 5, 2008 10:27 PM

As I read the NY TImes piece in Dublin, I remembered that Shoppers Food Warehouse had started charging like .20 per plastic bag, about 10 years ago..or you could bring your own. I think they did away with that though. Can someone tell me?? I haven't shopped there in a few years since I'm in ATL, but I'd be curious to know.

I'm even almost certain they went completely paper.

Posted by: FlaNBoyant Eats | February 5, 2008 10:36 PM

Get a gip, get a life, get over it. Long ago in 50s-60, my grandmother and I walked. Yes WALKED to the local grocer or the
A&P (about a quarter of a mile or a mile). She had a tapesty "shoping bag" about the size of a large tote bag.

Was once searched in early 80s when women twice my age had purses double the size of the tote I had.

Purchased my first canvas totes in Sept 1991. Giving up bags is not a choice; it's a way of life. Baggers don't seem to appreciate this; they insist on putting far less in the bag than it can carry based on what a plastic bag could carry. Can't even seem to put anything in other than plastic.

Posted by: cwaytovich | February 6, 2008 1:46 AM

I also reuse the plastic bags, but my main concern about the absence of the plastic bag option is that I got food moths at Whole Foods in a paper bag (watched in horror as they were hatching) and it took 3 (THREE) years to get rid of them. Organic is great, but wheen they don't spray the paper bags, give me plastic!!!

Posted by: barbbhb | February 6, 2008 7:52 AM

They are selling biodegradable bags at our grocery store, but they're very expensive. The price needs to be halved for them to compete.

NYC may have passed a law requiring chain grocery stores to collect used plastic bags (from any store) for recycling.

I've never found bugs in paper bags, but when we're in the city, we get them all the time in the plastic bags from our nearest store. They specialize in organics and the grain and flour section is the culprit. I once bought a bag of organic rye flour and it was filled with pantry moths. Yes, they are sickingly hard to get rid of. Once you have an infestation under control, put out pantry moth traps to keep it that way.

Posted by: Fran | February 6, 2008 8:14 AM

I remember when my mom bought Giant's reusable bags in the mid 1990s... she's been using them ever since and they're still functional and in one piece. Now if only we could get the groceries to charge for plastic and paper bags!

Posted by: Baltimore | February 6, 2008 9:30 AM

Can someone explain more about the bugs in paper bags? I've never seen this! Also, I'm another single in a small apartment who re-uses the plastic bags for the trash chute. I use my cloth bags unless I need 'garbage' bags - then I take the grocery store bags

Posted by: Julie | February 6, 2008 9:36 AM

I swtiched to canvas and love it- it was hard to remember in the beginning so I just started writing Canvas Tote at the top of my grocery list- I keep them in the car and because most of the stores where I live offer incentives to use your own, i will walk back out to the car to get them if I still forget. (my local Keils enters you in a drawing for free groceries/ other stores give a discount for each tote) The cheap ones most stores sell now are still made of plastic in some way- I found a place on line that sells 100% cotton canvas totes with humorous logos and biobags for dog poop(they even have a funny tote for dog owners who use plastic. It is something you have to get used to but worth it- I can bring home a huge amount in just a few totes and the strap fits comfortably over your shoulder. I can't be out doing ocean/street cleanups all the time, but I figure i can do my part by not adding more waste- check out this site www.sackswithattitude.com or just google for more options

Posted by: dave | February 6, 2008 10:39 AM

I bought the reusable bags at Fresh Fields (or Whole Foods or whatever they are this week) when I was standing in the checkout queue and saw the lady in front of me using them; what prompted me to buy them was when I saw how much stuff they held. Her two reusable bags held more than four plastic bags would have (and the plastic bags may well have required double-bagging). I've been quite chuffed with the amount of stuff they hold because it makes it easier to carry everything from the store to the car and from the car up the stairs to the kitchen when I get home; the handles are also considerably sturdier than the ones on plastic bags.

The one thing that I always debate is whether it would look weird taking the Fresh Fields bags into Harris Teeter. Teeter sell their own reusable bags, but it seems kind of silly to have separate reusable bags for each store. I suppose if one uses the auto-checkout it's not an issue.

I do occasionally want to get paper grocery bags, though, for recycling the newspapers. It's easier and cleaner than hauling loose papers down to the garage to put in the recycling bin, and I also don't like using the recycling bin because the garbage men don't come until after I've left for work, meaning the empty bin sits out by the curb all day advertising that nobody's home.

Finally, someone noted that Shoppers Food Warehouse used to charge 3¢ per bag if you wanted bags. I remember that from back in the 1980s. Everyone I knew who shopped there brought cardboard boxes (similar to the boxes wine stores use when you buy several bottles), and the Shoppers at Fair City Mall used to have an area down past the checkout lanes with tons of empty boxes available for people to take for free. You bagged (or packed, I guess) your own groceries, and I always figured that knowing how to fit everything as compactly as possible into the boxes was part of the game. Perhaps this is one reason why I like the reusable bags--the cashiers at Fresh Fields are good at packing them compactly.

Posted by: Rich | February 6, 2008 11:32 AM

Forgot to note--the other thing that sometimes trips me up on the reusable bags (aside from wondering if it's a faux pas to use another store's bag) is that, while I do keep them in the trunk of the car, when I drive my other car I often forget to move the bags over. I suppose I should just buy three more so that I have them in each car.

Posted by: Rich | February 6, 2008 11:35 AM

Are you serious, you're worried about using one store's reusable bags at a different store? Get a grip.

I'm all for reusable bags. But I too haven't figured out the garbage bag problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2008 11:46 AM

I'm not "worried" about it. I said I "wonder" about it. There is a difference!

Posted by: Rich | February 6, 2008 2:46 PM

That's IT. Tony @ 7:42pm yesterday posted a link to an article about the plastic flotsam and jetsam that is hanging out and growing in the Pacific Ocean. I'd heard about this before, but now I'm going to make sure that I do something.

By the way, there is a common misconception about plastic and how it bio-degrades. It DOES break down, but only to a smaller piece of plastic... it actually never disappears from our ecosystem. The problem here - and, specifically as far as our oceans are concerned - is that those tiny pieces of plastic are being consumed by the organisms at the bottom of the food chain. Which, of course, will work the plastics UP into our food sources and into our bodies in a matter of years.

My goal for tonight is to order my reuseable bags (www.reuseablebags.com) and to draft up a letter to my local grocery stores to encourage charging for plastic bags and offering incentives if you bring your own (also on the website).

Thanks, Kim - great blog topic!

Posted by: erin | February 6, 2008 5:06 PM

Reducing consumption of these items is the key. I have about 5 double-bagged paper bags in my car to hold my groceries. Double-bagged paper bags are really strong, long-lasting, and free. If you can get into the habit of reaching into the back to pull a couple of them out before you walk into the store and then return them to the car once you've unloaded them, this is a convenient and non-wasteful solution.

Posted by: Rebecca | February 7, 2008 3:18 PM

"I much prefer paper, but clearly the baggers like plastic, since they always grumble about having to fold out the paper bags. " As a grocery store bagger in my younger days I can tell you that 8 hours of baggin into paper bags leaves your arms raw, so I sympathize.

An interesting thing happening in my city: all stores are starting to supply $1 reusable bags because it is now the chic thing to do. However, woe is the shopper who accidentally brings their Whole Foods bags in to Trader Joes. You would think you were comitting a horrible, horrible sin. And generic reusable bags are just as bad. It's ridiculous that I need no fewer than 9 reusable bags to fulfill my shopping needs so as not to be chastised by the cashier.

Finally, as a liberal married to a conservative, I find it ridiculous that my husband considers reusable bags to be unAmerican. Where did that come from??

Posted by: frommichigan | February 11, 2008 10:48 AM

"PAPER BAGS: ROACH CITY"
Jeff Stier
New York Post

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04162008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/paper_bags__roach_city_106774.htm

April 16, 2008 -- GET your plastic grocery bags while you can. By Earth Day, that is, Tuesday, the national chain Whole Foods Market will no longer offer shoppers plastic bags - leaving consumers who don't want reusable canvas bags one choice: paper.

Unfortunately, paper has its own drawbacks, such as: it's preferred by cockroaches - like those contributing to New York City's asthma epidemic.

Like other Earth Day initiatives, this move by Whole Foods reeks of a phenomenon known as "greenwashing" - when companies make lofty claims in an effort to profit from "environmentally concerned" shoppers.

continued...


http://www.nypost.com/seven/04162008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/paper_bags__roach_city_106774.htm

Posted by: Jeff Stier | April 17, 2008 12:07 AM

We have been using our own bags for 8 years now. No dramma, really. We use them to every store we go to now. Since cashiers gave us the evil look if we did not wrap veggies in plastic, we got some gauze bags.

Re: doggie's poop. I hear it is being recommended that pet poop is disposed into toilets, as it then can be treated along human poop. That seems to make more sense than the plastic wrapped timecapsules we are sending to landfills :D

I would like to say that if we go to Whole Foods, it drives me crazy that they double bag the paper bags. These are strong, but people are just so dumb. The few times we forgot our bags or needed an extra one, I had to fight to get a single bag, then proceeded to fill it up, and lift it much to the gasping of the cashier. They just don't read labels and know nothing about how sturdy paper is. Anyways, we have plenty of resauble bags now so we don't have to deal with this kind of double wasteful stupidity anymore.

Posted by: juli | May 2, 2008 9:42 AM

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