A blog reader sent me the following link and post to an online petition to ban plastic bags in grocery stores all across the country. I think making our voices heard on this subject is important, and this, along with sending it to your representatives in Washington, is a good way to do it.
On January 22, 2008, Whole Foods Market, the global leader in the natural and organic foods market space, formally announced that it will permanently end the use of all disposable plastic grocery store bags. This decision affects all of its 270 stores, and is set to be completed by Earth Day, or April 22, 2008. We at Green Eggs and Planet (http://www.greeneggsandplanet.com), are fully behind this small but significant step forward in terms of global consciousness and environmental awareness. And this got us to thinking.
What about the rest of the super markets and grocery stores out there across the land? What are they waiting for?
We don't believe that it should only be the province of the environmentally aware, eco-friendly "organic" or "health" food store, regardless of how large and seemingly important Whole Foods may have become in recent years. Those of us who have awoken to the reality of the planet's state, rather unfortunately, still represent only a growing minority. The fact of the matter is that the issue at hand, specifically that of eliminating plastic bags from use across the country, is a concern for all people -- whether they realize it yet or not. The time, however, is now.
Many of us have begun to notice a small change creeping up in our local grocery stores and super markets -- with some stores currently offering alternatives at the checkout stand. It's no longer just "Paper or plastic?" -- now there's also a re-useable bag for sale, typically around 99 cents, silently and awkwardly perched somewhere within arm's reach, quietly vying with the entertainment rags and candy racks for your attention. More often than not, however, nobody at the grocery store is educating the consumer, offering the re-useable option as the only way to go, serving up the exact reasons behind why making that decision is so potentially important.
Here are the facts:
-- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we consume over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps in the United States alone, every year.
-- In the U.S., consumers throw away about 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, with an estimated cost to retailers at $4 billion.
-- Plastic bags are petroleum based, and they litter countless landfills, often taking more than a thousand years to break down. This means that polymers of literally every single bag ever produced still exist somewhere, in some smaller form, on our planet.
-- It takes over 400,000 gallons of crude oil to produce 100 million plastic bags. Less than 1% of these will be recycled.
-- Hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals, including whales and sea turtles, die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.
-- Plastic bags don’t actually biodegrade; instead, they constantly break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits (photodegrade). In the process, they contaminate soil and waterways. Eventually, they are accidentally eaten by many animals, and end up in the food chain, later to be consumed in many cases by humans.
-- Despite efforts to reuse and recycle, studies have shown that plastic bags are consistently among the twelve items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups (Center for Marine Conservation).
Many other countries have banned or actively discourage the use of plastic bags, including Australia, Ireland, Italy, Taiwan and more. Still others have instituted a tax on all plastic bags that get used at the grocery stores. Mumbai has formally banned the use of plastic bags since 2005.
A little bit of consciousness and simple, practical action can go a long way if all consumers make the choice to abandon plastic bags, make their voices heard with their super market and grocery store corporations and make the switch to re-useable shopping bags. Whole Foods estimates that from May to December of 2008, they will be preventing 100 million disposable plastic bags from entering the environment.
The goal now is to confront all other CEOs of major grocery store chains with this evidence, with Whole Foods example, and with our voices -- and a demand for change and a new collective policy towards the environment. Time is running out.
Take a minute to sign this e-petition, and spread the word. Copy and paste the link from the petition, and pass it along to all of your friends.
When we reach a significant amount of signatures whose collective voice will have the ability to make an impact, we will then draft a formal letter along with this petition, and send it to all major U.S. super market CEOs and leadership.
The Vons Companies, Inc.
Ralphs Grocery Company
The Kroger Co.
Gelson's and Mayfair (Arden Group, Inc.)
D'Agostino Supermarkets, Inc.
Pathmark Stores, Inc.
With your help, we will reach that number of signatures quickly, and foster positive environmental change.