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Saving the World - One Plastic Bag at a Time

Green Lifestyle  (tags: air pollution, animals, conservation, energy, global warming, Good News )

- 4057 days ago -
What's wrong with plastic bags? Lots. They often wind up as litter, or in trees. They drift into oceans and rivers and kill fish. They can take 1,000 years to decompose. And every time we use a plastic bag, we drive up the demand for oil ...

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Emily L (273)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 3:04 pm
AND, you can help! Tell SF you support the plastic bag ban:

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 3:07 pm
thankyou for this plastic bags have been driving me crazy

Robyn E (96)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 3:22 pm
This IS great news! I support the ban because it will require stores to offer recycled/compostable alternatives to plastic bags. I found out about this at

Susan Edwards (6)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 6:03 pm
Grocery stores up in Canada sell reusable Grocery bags- 5 for $4.99. Great for no-name supermarkets, where they offer to sell plastic bags for a nickel each, (not!) or you'd need to use boxes.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 6:38 pm
Yes! In Gemany you have to BUY plastic bags, anf you therefore KEEP an RESUSE them, or, you the more popular thing; Use cloth bags.
I practice that same abit here when I shop, I have cloth bags I bought while in Germany.
I I ever do windup getting plastic bags- happens sometimes- I am sure to recycle them.
We need to get on the bandwagon in the US and adopt the same policies and habits that are good for the environment-- OUR world that WE live in! :)

Nuraini A (41)
Thursday March 15, 2007, 9:50 pm
yes, they should be provided at cost, or banned. think back to why people accepted them in the first place, when they were introduced? they were accepted, simply because that is what is provided to carry purchases with. maybe people in the old days might carry a basket to market, but sometimes just carry back purchases in whatever the shop uses to bag or wrap it in. and when this became the plastic bag, that was what they took back. so, do the change in the same way. i bet the public doesn't really care, so long as it's not worse than before.

Nicole Bekker (15)
Friday March 16, 2007, 1:33 am
Could a bag really save the world?
It's made of cream canvas, costs a fiver, and is just fine for those little shopping trips. So how has it become this year's must-have fashion accessory - the latest symbol of clued-up, plugged-in people power? It's just a bag. All right, so it's a tote bag designed by Anya Hindmarch, the queen of Bagland. A bag that retails for £5 but is now changing hands for up to £200 on eBay. A bag so hot that it was chosen as the official goodie-bag for guests at the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar-night party. A bag that proclaims, on the cream canvas exterior between its grosgrain trim: "I'm Not a Plastic Bag." But a bag, nonetheless: something to carry groceries in. Not something, one might think, with the power to change the world.
Or is it? Hindmarch's creation is doing much more than making celebrities look good on the streets of New York, Paris and London. It is the must-have fashion accessory of the year - and the most successful endeavour yet by We Are What We Do, a non-profit British campaign group that has set out to change the world with baby steps. Suddenly, those baby steps are turning into a run.
We Are What We Do has published two books since its birth in 2004. The first, Change the World for a Fiver, has sold 750,000 copies. The second, Change the World 9 to 5, released in September, is also recording huge sales. They list "actions" to improve our environmental, community and personal behaviour, such as "Smile and smile back"; "Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth"; and "decline plastic bags wherever possible". And now comes the bag.
We Are What We Do, formed by a community worker, David Robinson, and a financial PR, Eugenie Harvey, initially devised "100 simple, everyday actions that can improve our environment, our health, and our communities, and make our planet and the people on it much happier". But the organisation is not a charity. It is not an institution. It is, say its founders, a "movement".
Its leading lights met Hindmarch two years ago, and told her that the average person uses 167 plastic bags a year, and landfill sites cannot cope. Hindmarch was hooked: "It was before the fever pitch of environmental concern hit the press, and I was so impressed with their outlook, which seemed to be, 'Let's all do a little bit.'"
Hindmarch's "little bit" was to create the bag. "The key thing was to design something that people wanted. There seemed to be three ways through [the plastic bag] problem. You could tax people. You could make it cheaper to use the better bags - biodegradable bags - which I feel is probably the best end solution. Or you could make it cool to act differently and correctly. So I had to make a bag that was desirable."
She's certainly done that. There are only 500 special-edition bags in the world - all, it seems, in the hands of Hollywood A-listers - and the clamour for this latest must-have has hit fever pitch. The rest of us do not have long to wait; the totes will be on sale in the Anya Hindmarch London store and other fashion outlets by the end of the month, and in Sainsbury's in April.

IE R (237)
Friday March 16, 2007, 9:25 am
That's Europe, Scandinavia and South Africa you have to purchase bags when you do your shopping, unless you bring your own (encourages you to save money AND conserve resources). I like that idea, because it makes people think about the resources they use, and they will therefore use fewer bags and reuse the bags they do buy.

In the US, many grocery stores now offer paper and plastic bag recycling bins where they either break down the matter and reforumlate it, or resale it so the bag continues its life as a bag, just somewhere else.

I've always HATED how US stores pack purchases into bags...they will put ONE small item into A bag! How wasteful! You will NEVER see this done in other countries. I was very glad when recycling opportunities in the US were offered for the bags, and always take advantage of them.

My biggest irritation is seeing the bags blowing around in the wind, caught in tree branches like unsightly flags proclaiming homo sapiens' polluting of the environment.

Catherine M (99)
Friday March 16, 2007, 10:58 am
I recommend using cloth bags

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday March 16, 2007, 11:41 am
Pamela wrote: "Yes! In Gemany you have to BUY plastic bags, anf you therefore KEEP an RESUSE them, or, you the more popular thing; Use cloth bags."

Same thing in British Columbia ... and paper bags cost more than plastic bags, too!


Mark S (22)
Friday March 16, 2007, 10:31 pm
Here I go again, but I believe the use of plastic bags in many fields, incluing medicine & foodstuffs, have been a Great Advance for our society. Yes, they need to be recycled MUCH more efficiently & yes, they CAN cause unneccessary problems, even death for wildlife, if 'disposed of' improperly.
But to say they will take 1,000 years to decompose- or that their use is driving up the use of oil are both absolultely ridiculous & unsubstantiated. Most plastic bags in use begin disintegrating after only a few weeks exposure to the elememts. Plastics that have been made w/ the appropriate additives breakdown into a crumbly material over a few months. This gets "eaten" by certain oppurtunistic bacteria & fungi.
The vast majority of virgin plastic used in the U.S. is made from the oil industry's "waste" byproducts- stuff that would end up in our waste stream if not utilized this way (Ever notice how more & MORE consumer products use plastic for cases & "chassis"? Even electric heaters? Why?? $$ That's why. It's cheaper to produce & cheaper to ship around the globe. (Personally, I use a +55 year-old electric heater with a metal case in my bathroom. Why? Durability. & it's JUST as efficient (100%) as any OTHER lo-temp forced-air heater on the market. Don't get me wrong. I use a reuseable cloth shopping bag, or paper bags when I grocery-shop, but try running an ER w/o plastic & you'll have a LOT of corpses.
Plastics have their role & WE have the responsibility to use them properly. JUST THE FACT THAT YOU CAN REUSE ("recycle") PLASTIC FOR YEARS (i.e: '50s 'Boonton' plastic dinnerware, I'm still using MINE!) SHOWS THAT THEY ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE LIFESTYLE.
Oh, how I often cringe when I read some of these well-meaning Care2 threads.... HEY GUYS, GALS?? Take the plastic away & even this f__ing keyboar... {POOF! ;} -Mark M. Steeves

P.S: Want an example of a REAL (++)1,000 year waste problem? Hi-level nuclear waste. Thank GOD they'll nearly all be off-line by 2030 in THIS country anyway. China's another nightmarish, reprehensible story....

Elainna Crowell (174)
Saturday March 17, 2007, 3:14 am
I am one of those who use cloth bags for all my shopping and only use plastic ones when I need them for my garbage cans, Every bit of plastic gets recycled except those with wet garbage in them.

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 17, 2007, 1:38 pm
what is that bit about hindmarch? she uses leather so? as far as i am concerned she is not a designer i would support or buy. and what is the bit about recylced plastic ? i thought we are discussing plastic bags?

Nicole P (99)
Saturday March 17, 2007, 7:53 pm
I've been using my own tote bags (I got them from Earthjustice and NRDC when I became member) for the longest. I REFUSE to get any plastic or paper bag unless I have no other way (I don't drive, and I need to carry this on the bus). I try to recycle the plastic bags I find around me or left behind by other people. Or I just use them as trash bags. All this waste and pollution is nonsense!

Kirsten V (8)
Sunday March 18, 2007, 11:27 am
Plastics have their important uses but that's exactly why one-time use is a waste of resources. In Holland too, you either bring your own cloth bag or purchase a sturdy reusable bag for 20 cents. It's just part of the culture. I don't understand why some people in the US are so insistent on free plastic bags being their "right". (yes I've had actual arguments with people about this o___O)

Keith F (10)
Sunday March 18, 2007, 3:27 pm
I too refuse plastic bags unless I've been stupid enough to bring absolutely nothing out with me, but the article is right about the relatively benign impact of plastic bags in terms of energy and resource use - hence their cheapness. It is our attitude to packaging that needs to change, for it would signal a change in how we view waste in general.

This article, "The Problem With...Plastic" (, shows the terrible dilemma we are in.

Ali Hirst (286)
Sunday March 18, 2007, 4:49 pm
We don't use plastic bags in Australia now as often, as we have the material ones that are only around a $1 and are reusable for years...They hold a couple of times the plastic bag will hold. Some stores in Australia are even charging you if you have to use a plastic bag, if you forget your recylable ones..ALL should do this as it is a much cleaner, and tider way as well as saving the environment..We even use a plastic container and freeze our scraps until garbage day, and then put them in the bin..Anything that is recyclable can go straight into our recycle bins, such as plastic bottles, tins, and anything else that is marked with a number for recycling....

Mark S (22)
Sunday March 18, 2007, 9:27 pm
Stores in Australia CHARGE if you if you 'have to' use pastic bag?? :O
That's WONDER-ful, Helen. You folks down under (as we like to say) are years ahead of us. If ya go to WallyWorld up here in NH, you have no CHOICE but to accept the use of plastic bags (unless you brought your cloth 1) as they've never HAD paper bags.
I threw my cloth sack up in front once, the girl grabbed it & started to look for the UPC code to SCAN it! LOL I had to tell her it was mine to hold the cans, etc. She looked at me, confused at first, then her expression melted into an "Oh...your 1 of 'them' " looks. :/~
I'm still dumbfounded, 30 yrs after helping start our HiSchool's recycling program, as to the "I don't care about that silliness" attitude towards recycling that many Americans still have. Atleast many towns require you to recycle paper, cans & bottles now. :)

Ali Hirst (286)
Sunday March 18, 2007, 10:09 pm
Only some supermarkets here charge Mark ..but more should do it as it is so much easier to take the cloth bags...and we also have the recycle bin at home, supplied by the councils, for our recycling garbage...have had them for about 10yrs or more here..great idea and gets paper, glass etc as i said recycled..Only problem is that it only takes one person to put something like "china" in a bin to ruin a whole truckload..but people are learning and if I am not sure ( we have numbers on the bottles, tins, etc) then I put it in the ordinary garbage bin..The recycle one is emptied every 2 weeks.

Jessica J (33)
Monday March 19, 2007, 3:51 pm
As a litter loon, I can vouch for the fact that plastic, bags or any other item, does NOT start to decompose after a few weeks! Not the types that a manufactured nowadays, anyway. I sometimes dig it out of forest ground if there is a little piece sticking out, and the bit that's been buried in the soil is just as solid as it was when it went in :-((.
I always bring my own bags to stores, and even employees that see me on a more-than-weekly basis
(the petstore guy for one :-)) still, without thínking, grab for the baggies while I'm waving my cotton-classic in their face....oh well, this time next year?

Mark S (22)
Monday March 19, 2007, 11:57 pm
Interesting, Helen. Hope more stores follow suit until everyone is just in the HABIT of bringing their sack(s) in under theiur arms. I was shown the recycle bins when I moved into this Apt. (1of 6) last June. Glad to see it's spreading everywhere, now. I know about the 'contamination' issue. Many still toss in their SOAP bottles when all it takes is a little & it makes the whole #2 plastic pile nearly worthless. I disguise the old, clean, dry-gas bottles myself. ;) Still occ. miss the recycle guy who zips past about noon every other Weds. Oh well!

Ali Hirst (286)
Tuesday March 20, 2007, 2:05 am
Yes I went to the QBD bookstore to buy a book and they even have the cloth it is spreading fast around Australia in most stores now...But ALL Supermarkets have them, even ones that are insulated for cold things for about $2.50...and I even noticed they had ones for wine when I was out today for a dollar..

Mark S (22)
Tuesday March 20, 2007, 10:02 am
That's great! Is the Aussie Gov't or a nat'l retailer's org behind this, Helen? I'd like to see this catch on up here.
INsulated? For $2.50? Cool...or as the kids say up here now, "Sweet!"
I have to struggle to get the many of the young bag-boys lately to even remember to stick the ice cream in a seperate (thin :/~), p-l-a-s-t-i-c "cooler" baggie!
I stood by at the S&S supermk't last week for ~5minutes (where they have "paper or plastic") NO-one offered the choice and ALL walked out with 1-4 tan, #4 Hilex(TM) plastic bags holding their goods...
Atleast MarketBasket's bags are #2 ("QuikMate-EZ" - LOL)

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 20, 2007, 5:35 pm
Thanks for this story. I agree that cloth bags are probably the best answer. Although I often use plastic bags, I am a person that reuses them often for other things instead of just throwing them away. It would be nice to see supermarkets, etc., start making rules about cloth bags, though, like I read in other posts from around the world.

Timothy Reidy (1)
Tuesday March 20, 2007, 5:58 pm
I prefer using plastic bags when I have to take home my items by bus. Paper bags work better for me when I travel by car. I would like to see the use of biodigradable bags, and like to see retailers sell their bags at cost. I used to bag groceries and prefer to bag with paper. However, paper bags do not come with good handles to carry multiple bags. My opinion is that choice is preffered, and reduce, reuse options should be offerered by retailers.

Ali Hirst (286)
Wednesday March 21, 2007, 1:20 am
Mark..Yes they even have a zip around the insulated ones..and they are Blue..where the ordinary cloth bags are generally green from the supermarkets, but from retail stores they can be any colour..NEAT

Mark S (22)
Wednesday March 21, 2007, 8:21 am
Who MAKES these things (Blue,green)? Any Co. name, website or # on them?
I wonder if they're avail Stateside from anyone. I have a progressive grocer here quite curious.
Heck, you may START something...!

Blue Bunting (855)
Wednesday March 21, 2007, 9:43 am
A quick search for "canvas shopping bag" and "cloth tote bag" brought these up ...

Reuse? Need cloth shopping bags to carry grocery items and be environmentally and eco-sensible? We manufacture reusable cloth tote bags from Ecospun® (100%

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with or promoting any of the above websites or their products.

Ali Hirst (286)
Wednesday March 21, 2007, 1:23 pm
I guess you would say ours in Australia are of a canvas variety..I will try and find a photo of one and put it out..

Kamberly TMI (14)
Friday March 23, 2007, 2:40 pm
"Peter Larkin, president of the California Grocers Association, says a ban on plastic bags is unfair and impractical because it does not affect drugstores or convenience stores and because plastics would enter the city anyway, from the suburbs or elsewhere."

Um Peter, that is NOT the point....

Ali Hirst (286)
Friday March 23, 2007, 5:47 pm
Good one envision a marching of plactic bags going down to the city...

Seriously..we use the canvas types here in Australia just about everywhere. They are made in China...stop laughing...but I looked on the bags this morning.

Ali Hirst (286)
Friday March 23, 2007, 5:52 pm
Mark I checked on our bags this morning...they are MADE IN well guess it keeps the price down

Mark S (22)
Friday March 23, 2007, 10:02 pm
Helen That's to be expected I guess. Probably means they are being imported SOMEwhere her in the U.S.
I just wish atleast Mexico was makin 'em for export. Really don't wanna support C's out-of-control, polluting, manufacturing machine anymore than neccessary.
Kamberly- Would like to see the Whole quote by Peter as that sentence- call me High Dense-ity Pauly- doesn't really make sense, especially the last part. 1st off, "...plastic BAGS would enter the city anyway?"... HUH???
Maybe you can Post, or send it to me- if it'll fit as an 'Intro' ;)

Past Member (0)
Friday April 6, 2007, 1:54 am
can someone tell me what where to get bags to use for the garbage cans instead of th ehorrid plastic> i have not been ablt to find out and it rives me crazy to have to use plastic??????????????????? please do let me know

Ali Hirst (286)
Friday April 6, 2007, 2:22 am
Okay I have done a search online and they are readily available in Australia at most stores for about $1..but this is the best I can come up with for shopping for them online for US residents..This is a set of bags here so if you want to go and share with friends it works out cheaper..they hold the equivilant of about 4 plastic bags in guess the same oversea.

Jennifer Powell (1)
Friday April 13, 2007, 11:28 am
Sophia, someone sent me a website recently about BIOBAGS...made from corn and they are compostable.
Can't find that exact website but you can try this:

They make several products.

Side note: I have received take home containers and silverware made of compostable corn!!! Awesome!!

Past Member (0)
Friday April 27, 2007, 8:00 am
KUDOS for all the comments. I am an anti-plastic kind of girl. I have rid my home of anything plastic, if at all possible. I use cloth bags, any kind of glass containers for "baggies"/storage. I save glass bottles/jars for my water bottle, food storage for the frig & cabinets. INo need for plastic for micro-wave...I have NO micro-wave. Too much toxins can come from plastic as well as clogging our landfills, destroying wildlife, and ALL the negativity that plastic causes. Stainless steel is good container too!

Past Member (0)
Saturday September 13, 2014, 1:46 pm
Plastic bags are truly a menace. Thanks

Past Member (0)
Tuesday May 19, 2015, 12:15 am
Reusable totes are best.
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