Thursday, November 30, 2006

High School Student Campaign

Students promote greener bags

November 29, 2006
Lebanon Valley News, HANOVER, N.H.

A group of Hanover High School students is hoping to persuade consumers to give up disposable shopping bags.
The group of 14- and 15-year-olds has laid out plans and secured sponsors for a publicity campaign to boost the use of reusable polypropylene bags at stores in Hanover...

Plastic bags in Scotland

Taysiders using 300 bags per person per year

29 November, 2006
Evening Telegraph, Dundee, Scotland

The average person in Tayside uses a staggering 300 shopping bags a year with most going to landfill after only one use. Figures release today, at the launch of a new campaign to reduce the amount of corporate and household waste, revealed the shocking extent of Tayside’s wasteful practices...

It's in the bag Canada

Eco-geek to eco-chic: It's in the bag

Nov. 29, 2006
ROBYN STUBBS, 24 HOURS, Vancouver, Canada

How many plastic bags are hiding under your kitchen sink?
According to the Greater Vancouver Regional District, Canadians take home 55 million plastic bags every week.
Most of those bags end up as litter or in landfills...

Hong Kong voluntary pact showing success

Supermarkets dole out fewer plastic bags

November 29, 2006, Hong Kong

Supermarkets have handed out 80 million fewer plastic bags since the launch of the voluntary pact on plastic-bag reduction, Secretary for the Environment, Transport & Works Dr Sarah Liao says. The three major supermarket chains have achieved 24-29% cuts, far above their 15% target...

Paying Indirect or Direct Costs?

In what is being called a radical move, the Kenyan government is trying to reduce plastic waste by increasing the thickness of bags and thus the cost:

November 30, 2006
Kenya: Plastic Shopping Bags to Cost More
Jeff Otieno, The Nation, Nairobi

Shoppers will pay more for plastic bags come next year.
It is expected that the price of the bags will more than double, approximately from Sh1 to between Sh2.50 and Sh5. The extra cost will be transferred to consumers indirectly...

For a different take on this, here's something from Gathura's World, a blog from Nairobi. He makes a very good point:

November 30, 2006
NARC-otics in a Plastic Bag

"Instead of asking shoppers to pay directly for the bags when and if they want them, the government has chosen to charge all consumers regardless of whether or not they make the environmentally sound decision to reject the bags. This is unlikely to result in fewer people asking for the bags at the supermarket counter. For that to happen, consumers who make environmentally foolish choices would need to bear the full cost of those choices, not share the burden with those who chose otherwise."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

CRAFTY: placemat into reusable bag

Make a quick and pretty reusable tote bag out of a placemat:

Nov. 20, 2006

from Musings of a Domestic Goddess blog, Utah

Tasmanian Bag Levy: Enviros vs. Liberals

Liberals slam the door on plastic bag solution

24 November 2006
Paula Wriedt, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania led the charge today on phasing out single use plastic bags, despite a lack of support from the Federal Liberal Government to implement a national levy.
Environment Ministers from around Australia and New Zealand met in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the fourteenth Environmental Protection and Heritage Council Meeting.
Tasmanian Minister for the Environment, Paula Wriedt, said that a national levy provided the easiest and simplest way to achieve a reduction in plastic bag use and the desired environmental outcomes...


Think before using another plastic bag

Nov 24, 2006
Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada

Ah... the plastic bag. While they are found everywhere these days, there was a time when they were more difficult to find.
Today they're found in the streets, tree branches and streams - in every corner of this planet. Around landfills they come loose from the other waste, become airborne and fly onto the neighbouring lands. Worldwide, stray plastic bags present problems when they clog sewer drains or endanger animal life.
Maharashtra, India has moved to ban all plastic bags after storm drains became blocked by bags and caused widespread flooding resulting in more than 1,000 deaths.
Many nations are implementing various levels of bans...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shopping in Akron

This is from a green blogger in the midwest. It's these kinds of small actions from regular folks, putting pressure on stores, corporations, city governments, that is making a difference:

Shopping with bags in Akron

Sunday, November 19, 2006
Village Green Blog, Akron , Ohio

Recycling, in order to be effective, has to become an everyday routine. Take shopping, for example. When I remember to return my shopping bags to my vehicle, they are there to be used whenever I stop for groceries or books or any other items I might buy...

and here's today's entry with a follow up:

Roots & Shoots

Jane Goodall's wonderful family environmental organization Roots & Shoots has a new reusable bag campaign. The website has materials like posters and fact sheets that kids can use to educate their neighbors about plastic bags. There's a great letter from Dr. Jane about why this campaign is important. They are even running a letter writing campaign to the President Kikwete of Tanzania, thanking him for banning plastic bags in his country.

Roots & Shoots Reusable Bag Campaign

Another Aussie City Bags the plastic

Bag the chance to get rid of plastic

15th November 2006
by Michael Newhouse, Star News, Melbourne, Australia

BRIMBANK City Council is encouraging residents to ‘Say No to Plastic Bags,’” giving locals the chance to exchange their old plastic bags for reusable ones as part of a new council campaign to cut the number of bags in Brimbank...

also, from the Brimbank City Council itself:
Residents are set to give plastic bags the boot in favour of reusable bags when Brimbank’s “Say NO to plastic bags!” campaign kicks off later this year...

What's IN the bag matters

Paper or plastic ... or is it what's in the bag that matters?

November 9, 2006
By Cathy Donohue, Times Argus, Barre, Vermont

"Paper or plastic?" the checkout clerk asks. Over the years it's become a pretty common question, and one that's been debated among people concerned about the environment. Let's take a quick look at the possible pros and cons of each, and dig a little deeper into the real question at hand...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Biodegradable plastic bags?

Is there really such a thing as a biodegradable plastic bag? Apparently there are some imposters out there. It's more complicated than it first seems - biodegradable vs. "totally degradable" vs. photo-degradable. I'm still confused:

Warning: Misleading claims being made to fool you!

Nov. 1, 2006
Norquest Bags Blog, Ahmedabad, India

What exactly are biodegradable plastic bags? You can be forgiven for believing that they would be bags that will do you and your environment no harm at all. But there’s too much dishonesty and sophistry being practiced in the areas of recycling and biodegradability.
Unfortunately some people are passing off photo-degradable bags as biodegradable....

One of the comments to this mentioned another website as a source of more info on the ways plastic can degrade:

Artists Design Reusable Bags

Great idea!

Sainsbury's launch "desirable" shopping bags

Nov. 3, 2006
By Andrea Height, Materials Recycling Weekly, UK

Sainsbury’s and the Arts Council England have joined forces to produce a range of limited edition shopping bags designed by well-known artists
Launched last week, the 50p “art in your hand” bags mark the Arts Council England’s 60th anniversary. They aim to promote the use of reusable shopping bags as well as raise awareness and debate about the role the arts play in people’s lives...

Take it all off at the checkout stand!

This is great! A UK minister advises his constituents to drive home the point about excess packaging - by pulling all the extra stuff off at the checkout stand! 3 reporters tell their personal stories about following his advice:

'The government told us to do it'

November 15, 2006,,1948099,00.html
The Guardian, UK

This week environment minister Ben Bradshaw urged shoppers to teach supermarkets a lesson by dumping wasteful packaging at the cash till. It's not often a member of the government recommends direct action.

What would the big chains make of it? We sent three writers to find out ...

a sampling:

"The ready meals deserve a whole packaging exhibition to themselves: there is foil wrapped in plastic, and plastic wrapped in cardboard, with cardboard labels wrapped over everything wherever possible. Maybe the cardboard is recycled, but really, it ain't good enough."

"I hear the tutting from the people in the queue. "If you don't stop I'm going to have to get the manager," says the woman in the body warmer. "I'm just taking the packaging off, like the environment minister told us to," I reply."

""Don't worry about the smell," I grin desperately, ripping open a plastic packet of mint three times as large as its contents. A minty aroma fills the air. Shopping this way is so much more sensual."

Keep Australia Beautiful Award goes to bag campaign

Marrickville wins reusable shopping bag award

November 16, 2006
ABC News Online, Sydney, Australia

An inner-west Sydney council and the manufacturers of a reusable supermarket shopping bag are this year's winners of the Keep Australia Beautiful Awards for reducing plastic bag use.
Marrickville Council has won the government prize for its successful 'Bagbusters' campaign, including distributing free reusable bags to residents and producing educational brochures in 10 languages...

Big Supermarkets launch reusables

Stop & Shop and Giant Launch Reusable Shopping Bag Program

Nov. 17, 2006
Commerce, CA

Earthwise Bag Company, Inc. today announced that The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company and Giant Food, two of the East Coast’s largest food retailers, will make Earthwise’s reusable bags available in all 565 of their stores throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

China's chain stores: 50 billion bags

China's chain stores use 50 billion plastic carryout bags a year

Nov. 10, 2006
People's Daily Online

China's shops hand out 50 billion plastic carrier bags to customers each year, according to a report by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA).
The report on issues of energy conservation in chain stores was based on a three-month survey into the country's 30 high-profile retail chain stores and franchises, according to CCFA.

Bras for Bag Ladies

Bra-maker to turn Japanese women into bag ladies

Nov 8, 2006

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese women who don't indulge in the national passion of buying designer bags and who care about the environment may soon have an alternative -- their bra. A lingerie maker, in a bid to discourage Japanese from using plastic bags, on Wednesday unveiled a bra whose cup padding unfolds to become a handheld shopping bag...

Friday, November 17, 2006

CRAFTY reusable bags

Some crafty projects for making reusable bags out of recycled materials:

Recycled sweater totes
By Leigh Radford, with instructions adapted from her book, AlterKNITS

Give old sweaters a second chance by turning them into one-of-a-kind handbags

By Kristi Porter
More bags from sweaters. Bags are really fun to make, because you can hardly go wrong. They are a great place to experiment, they don't have to fit, it's okay to have lots of them and they make great gifts.

Bags Valuable for Making Lumber

There are more markets for recycled materials from bags. The plastic lumber market is growing:

Plastic bags 'valuable'

November 15, 2006
By ROSS ROMANIUK, STAFF REPORTER Winnipeg Sun, Mannitoba, Canada

One man's trash is an industry's treasure -- or at least a valuable and reusable tool. That message comes from an industry group as it urges Winnipeg residents to return plastic shopping bags, or reuse or recycle them, rather than toss them out....

Welsh Jobs at Risk?

What a surprise - Plastic bag manufacturers say "there is a popular misconception that plastic bags are bad for the environment. The fact is that view is based on junk science.":

Plastic-bag ban, 'jobs will be at risk'

Nov 15 2006
by Martin Shipton, Western Mail, Wales, UK

ENVIRONMENT Minister Carwyn Jones has been accused of being badly-informed about plastic bags - and warned that his idea of banning them in supermarkets could cost Welsh jobs...

Zanzibar bans plastic bags

Zanzibar bans thin plastic bags

Business in Africa Online, TANZANIA

A ban on thin plastic bags blamed for environmental degradation and harming wildlife has taken effect on Tanzania's tourism-dependent Zanzibararchipelago, officials said...

A Million a Minute

A million a minute. A million a minute. A million a minute. Think about that. And less than .67 percent of plastic bags are recycled:

Plastic bags costly for environment

November 13, 2006
Red&, Athens, GA

Every minute in the United States, we use approximately 1 million plastic bags. Target alone purchases 1.2 billion bags yearly for their customers - add to that Wal-Mart, Kroger, Best Buy and almost every other place you shop, and you can start to see how our annual total is more than 100 billion bags...

Singapore using fewer plastic bags

Singaporeans asking for fewer plastic bags when grocery shopping

07 November 2006
By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia, Singapore

NTUC Fair Price says Singaporeans are becoming more environmentally friendly,as many are asking for fewer plastic bags when grocery shopping. This is good news as Singapore marks Clean and Green Week...

Botswana Ministry Bans Plastic Bags

Ministry bans thin plastic bags

07 November, 2006
Daily News, FRANCISTOWN, Botswana

A ban on the use of plastic bags will effect on February 1, forcing shoppers to either provide their own bags or pay for the new-style thicker recyclablebags. Wildlife, environment and tourism minister Mr Kitso Mokaila said in an interview that the new law aims to protect the environment...

The plastic garbage pit of the Pacific

A new Greenpeace report just came out on the dangers and sources of plastic in the great Pacific Garbage Patch:

The plastic garbage pit of the Pacific

November 6, 2006
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer, San Francisco Gate, San Francisco,CA

Trash particles, looking like food, imperil sea life

Plastic trash caught up in a swirling vortex in the North Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii is killing sea life, choking birds and fishand entangling seals and sea lions, a new Greenpeace report says....

See the whole Greenpeace report here:

Maids urged not to use plastic bags

Maids urged not to use plastic bags

November 06, 2006
by Caroline Kim, The Standard, Hong Kong

Volunteers of the environmental group, the Green Student Council, took to the streets Sunday to promote awareness among the territory's more than300,000 domestic helpers of the need to cut down on plastic bags usage...

Waste Professionals say "No plastic bags"

Even waste professionals say "No plastic bags!" But the company who did the survey didn't like the results:

Cromwell contests results of own bag survey
Recycling & Waste World, UK

OVER 70% of waste professionals who responded to a survey on plastic bags carried out by plastics recovery and recycling specialists, CromwellPolythene, believe that the best thing for the environment is to have no plastic bags at all...

A plastic bag free Cowra

Another city wide program that works. The previous collection program removed 38,000 plastic bags from the environment:

A plastic bag free Cowra

13 September 2006
Cowra Guardian, Cowra, Australia

Cowra Council has recently reinstated its successful plastic bag replacement program, in an effort to make Cowra a plastic bag free shire.The program encourages residents and businesses to exchange twenty plasticbags for an alternative reusable bag. The exchange is free to participants and can be repeated as many times as necessary...

Filipino Celebrities use straw bag to shop

"The plastic invasion of the Filipino culture and society must end." Yeah! According to this, 76% of the waste in Manila Bay is plastic:

Filipino Celebrities use straw bag to shop

Sept. 4, 2006
By Blanche Rivera, Inquirer, Quezon City, Phillippines

CELEBRITIES gave grocery shopping a twist on Monday as they declined plastic bags at the supermarket and instead brought out "bayong" or straw bags and cloth bags to carry their goods...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Niger Paves Problem With Plastic-Bag Bricks

Niger is turning its plastic bag problem into filler for its crumbling roads:

Niger Paves Over Its Garbage Problem With Plastic-Bag Bricks

Nov 27, 2005
by Natasha BurleyNiamey, Niger (AFP c/o TerraDaily)

It's a familiar joke across Niger that the national bird of the northwest African desert state is a black plastic bag, winging its way from market stall to trash heap to flock to the bare-branched trees around the dusty capital...

Hong Kong says no plastic bags for a day

Every day, Hong Kong consumes more than 30 million plastic bags, or five bags for every resident. They are trying to do something about it:

Hong Kongers saying no to plastic bags for a day

14 April 2006
By Channel NewsAsia's Hong Kong Correspondent Steven Jiang

HONG KONG : Hong Kong holds its first No Plastic Bag Day on April 15 as part of city-wide efforts to go green...

Plastic bags banned in Bombay

Plastic Bags not only use up fossil fuels, release CO2, and kill sea turtles, they cause serious clogs in municipal drainage systems:

Plastic bags banned in Bombay


State officials tie flooding that killed 1,000 to clogged gutters

"The western Indian state of Maharashtra on Friday said it is banning most plastic bags, blaming them for choking drains and causing floods a month ago that left more than 1,000 people dead, most in Bombay..."

Irish bag tax hailed success

The Plastax really works. We need one in the US:

Irish bag tax hailed success

20 August, 2002,
BBC News

Stores including Tesco have welcomed the tax.

A tax on plastic shopping bags in the Republic of Ireland has cut their use by more than 90% and raised millions of euros in revenue, the government says...

Paper vs. Plastic

This breaks down the ecological footprint of paper vs. plastic. From Greenfeet, a natural products store:

Paper vs. Plastic - The Shopping Bag Debate

October 2002

You step up to the register, the cashier asks if you've found everything ok and then the inevitable question is asked: "Will it be paper or plastic?"
What decision did you make? Was it an informed choice? Was it the best ecological choice? Well, to answer that, we need to start at the beginning and review each option and its impact on the environment...

Altered Oceans: Plastic Plague

The LA Times did a brilliant job in August 2006, reporting on the dire conditions that our earth's oceans are in. Though it may make you sad and angry, I highly recommend you read at least some of the 5 part series.

This is part 4. It was what drove me to make my "No more plastic bags" vow:

Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas

August 2, 2006,0,3130914.story
By Kenneth R. Weiss, Times Staff Writer

On Midway Atoll, 40% of albatross chicks die, their bellies full of trash. Swirling masses of drifting debris pollute remote beaches and snare wildlife.


We use approximately 1 million plastic bags every single minute in the US. If you've ever participated in a river or beach cleanup you know where many of them go. The damage they do to waterways and sealife is huge. And they are made of non-renewable fossil fuels for which we are fighting a losing warin Iraq. Isn't conservation the smart thing to do here?!

For that 2 minutes of convenience we get, the bags stay in the environment for up to one thousand years! Come on people, get over it. Grab a cloth bag and don't be part of the problem anymore.

This blog is going to be a compilation of current news stories about the worldwide campaign to eliminate the single use plastic bag. Thanks for reading.