Reusable Grocery Bags

21 04 2008

Today is just a good day for food related news in the MSM (main-stream media).  My girlfriend pointed out this article in City Pulse.

Last Friday, beginning at about 10 a.m., I elbowed aside a couple of retirees settled onto a bench at the West Saginaw Meijer and watched the shoppers go by. It took all of six minutes for the first 100 bags to fly off their metal T-frames and hitch a cart ride out the door.

Each checkout lane was a little Ellis Island for bags. Welcome to Lansing. Your host family will put you to work for 12 minutes (the average useful life of a plastic bag), then help you settle down in a nice landfill, tree or ditch.

It’s no secret that plastic bags litter the landscape, get into water and soil, stop up storm drains and use up petroleum. Plastic bags are more visible and numerous by far than paper bags, but paper shouldn’t get off the hook. Paper bags are a lot easier to recycle than plastic bags, but they use up trees, they’re heavier than plastic and they take more energy to make and transport.

Now ther’s an interesting take on paper or plastic.  I’ll admit, I’m bad.  I keep walking by the reusable bags at the mega-marts, but they always seem like such a hassle.  I have to remember to put them back in my truck after I use them so they are there for next time.

There are a lot of interesting facts in this article about how other countries deal with the platic bags.  All of them sound like good solutions.  I would be totally in favor of this one….

(Hugh) McDiarmid (of the Michigan Environmental Council) suggested, however, that a “takeback” program similar to the Michigan bottle deposit — and the Irish tax — might work.

“We have experience with that already,” McDiarmid said. “The bottle bill turned out to work fairly well.” Terry Link, head of MSU’s Office of Campus Sustainability, also saw an affinity between the two issues. “What really helped that bottle bill pass is, people were tired of the litter,” Link said. “And it’s the litter part that’s driving everybody nuts now. You see it on the beaches, the roadways — it blows everywhere.”

Before moving to Michigan a few weeks ago, I had no idea why all my Pepsi had deposit prices on them.  The first time I went to Meijer I couldn’t figure out why people were taking trash into the store.  Then I saw the machines to deposit bottles…then I noticed the other day on a reciept that there’s $.10 added to the purchase price of every pop I get.  I think maybe I’ll start saving those bottles now.

Not everyone thinks we should get rid of plastic grocery bags.  The companies that make them have formed the Progressive Bag Alliance to lobby for alternatives to outlawing the bags.  Of course, they have an agenda though, so does their opinion really count?

San Francisco, CA became the first city to outright ban plastic bags on March 27, 2007.  Just across the bay, the City of Oakland, CA followed suit shortly after.  In July of 2007, the California State Legislature enacted AB 2449 requiring all large supermarkets to offer recycling points for customers.  So far, no other states have followed suit.

This make you feel bad yet?  It’s ok, the City Pulse has a list of stores that offer reusable bags and the price.  Check out their article by clicking this link.  The info is at the bottom of the article.